Japanese broadcasters Nippon Television (NTV) and Wowow have reached a basic agreement to jointly provide broadcasting services on a digital communications satellite, beginning as early as spring 2001.

The satellite is to be launched this summer in the same position as a digital broadcast satellite that is scheduled to start transmitting in December. By broadcasting from this slot, NTV and Wowow hope to recruit the 10 million households that are expected to take the broadcast satellite channels.

Space Communications Corporation, which will operate the new bird, may join the venture alongside Wowow and NTV.

The partners will have to compete with Japan Digital Broadcasting Service which operates the SKYPerfecTV communications satellite platform. SKYPerfecTV, which has more than 1.5 million subscribers, has already absorbed one rival, JSkyB, and driven another, DirecTV, out of the Japanese market.