In Japan, as with most countries, there are television and radio networks. For the most part, television networks were established based on the capital contribution from existing radio networks at that time. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the capital relationship between the media (such as the relationship between newspaper, radio and TV networks).
Since the country is around 70% mountainous, TV and radio signals prove to
be a large challenge. Government regulations for broadcasting are also
extremely complicated and strict, resulting in a comparatively small number of stations for such a large population. Nationwide there are about 89 FM stations and 215 AM stations. The other 855 stations are low power repeaters to reach valleys and secluded areas. With television this is even more so, with 211 stations and 7341 repeaters. Japanese AM is the same as in many Western nations (530-1600 KHz), but their FM is from 76-90 MHz, resulting not only in a very limited
number of possible stations, but any FM radio receivers from outside Japan are all but useless.
For the most part, variety shows, serial dramas, and news constitute a large percentage of Japanese evening shows. Several Western movies are also shown, many with a subchannel for English. There are no all-English channels except
for cable and satellite, but in areas near US military bases there is often
the Armed Forces Radio Network which anyone can tune in to.
N.B.: Though I am trying to be impartial, some may object to my categorization of each TV network. Opinion could especially be different on the absolute degree in respect to liberal or conservative. In this sense, this chart serves to show relative (political) position of TV networks. This disclaimer could also apply to the charts for newspapers and magazines mentioned below.
NHK (日本放送協会 Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai). Japanese public broadcast network. It engages its activities based on a "listening fee" (around USD 12 per month) which citizens in Japan who own TV have to pay. (Though that law ("Housou Hou" (Broadcasting Act)) does not stipulate any punishment to fail to pay its listening fee.) Because NHK is a publically broadcast network, the standpoint of NHK is impartial -- actually, NHK deliberately avoids to air political critics or approval. Therefore, NHK usually does not contribute to journalism, but some people say it deserves to at least play a role that conveys reliable facts. In concrete terms, NHK has 2 TV channnels, unlike the other TV networks (in the Tokyo region, channel 1 ("Sougou" (General)) and channel 3 ("Kyoiku" (Education)). Web site: Nihon Housou Kyoukai
Nippon TV (日本テレビ放送網/日テレ Nippon Television). Conservative. In Tokyo region, channel 4. It is also known as the owner of the baseball team "Yomiuri Kyojin Gun" (Yomiuri Giants). Website: Nippon Television
TBS (東京放送 Tōkyō Hōsō, Tokyo Broadcasting System). Middle or Middle/Liberal of the political spectrum. However, the famous news program "Chikushi Tetsuya's News 23" is sometimes regarded as a "liberal" program. The main anchor of this program, "Chikushi Tetsuya," is the translator of David Halberstam's "The Powers That Be." He is also influence by the attitude of CBS News (exempli gratia, 60 Minutes). In Tokyo region, channel 6. TBS
TV_Asahi (テレビ朝日). Liberal. It had a famous TV news program titled "News Station." It has led by main caster Hiroshi Kume for 18 years, and it ended its program run on March 26, 2004. In Tokyo region, channel 10. Website: TV_Asahi
TV_Tokyo (テレビ東京). Focuses on the news in Tokyo region as well as economic news. In Tokyo region, channel 12. Website: TV Tokyo
In Japan, cable TV and multi-channnel satellite TV are less popular than in the United States. Therefore, these 6 TV networks share almost the whole of the viewers in Japan (population 120 million, and 45 million households). As a consequence of this oligopoly, it is not unusual when a specific TV program gets 20% of audience appreciation rating. As well, advertisements and other messages are very effective at reaching citizens. In this sense, TV as a medium has a strong power.
There are local TV stations (most of them are affiliated companies of the above-mentioned nationwide TV networks), but in light of their small presence, they are not of significant note.
Nihon Keizai Shimbun (n.b. the editorial writers and leading writers tend to convey a more conservative sense of values.)
n.b.: owing to its connection to the New Komei Party, Seikyou Shimbun changes its position in line with the position of the party (for example, it changes its position depending upon whether the New Komei Party is one of the ruling parties or not).
Sankei Shimbun. Rightist and Conservative. It has a strong connection with Fuji_TV. Known as the nationalist's paper.
Mainichi Shimbun (毎日新聞). Middle. 3rd ranked in daily circulation -- around 3 million. It has a connection with TBS.
Seikyo Shimbun. Religious paper of Soka Gakkai that has 9 million believers. Soka Gakkai is linked to "New Komei Party" and New Komei Party sometimes hold a casting vote for both national and regional election because of its organized vote.
Nihon Keizai Shimbun (日本経済新聞). Economic paper similar to the Wall Street Journal. 4th ranked in daily circulation -- around 3 million. It has a strong connection with TV_Tokyo.
There are also regional newspapers like the NishiNihon Shinbun(Western Japan Newspaper) in Kyushu.
As with other countries, surveys tend to show that the number of newspaper subscribers is declining. This trend will probably continue for some time.
Dentsu. Largest Japanese advertising agency (4th worldwide). It has an enormous presence, especially in TV media. This company went public in November 2001. This company also has a strong connection to the legislative branch of Japan. Website: Dentsu
Hakuhodo. 2nd largest Japanese advertising agency.