Japanese studio Toho is boarding Nihon Eiga Satellite Broadcasting (NESB), a joint venture launched in February by News Corp, Sony, Fuji TV and Softbank, to broadcast two satellite channels specialising in Japanese films and TV programming (Screendaily February 15).

Toho will take a 20% share in NESB along with the four existing partners who also hold 20% stakes. NESB's total paid-in capital will rise to Y500m ($4.67m) following the deal.

With one seat on NESB's board of directors, Toho intends to take an active role in the channels' management and supply the outfit with films from its extensive library.

NESB's existing partners are also the leading shareholders in Japan's SKY PerfecTV satellite broadcasting platform. NESB received a licence from Japan's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications on March 24, to broadcast on the SKY PerfecTV platform. In April it will take over the management of the Nihon Eiga Senmon Channel (Japan Movie Specialty Channel) and the Jidai Geki Senmon Channel (Period Drama Specialty Channel) from current channel operator, Sky Entertainment.

NESB also intends to purchase film titles outside of its relationship with Toho and Fuji TV. Toho rivals Toei, Shochiku and Nikkatsu are already operating satellite channels, but Toho's entry promises to intensify already fierce competition among Japanese movie companies in the satellite broadcasting market.