Japan's Hdtv: What's Wrong With This Picture?

It's hard to miss the pessimism these days among Japanese TV makers when the talk turns to high-definition television. That's right, pessimism. True, the first HDTV sets for consumers appeared in Japan late last year, with wide screens and movie-quality images. But the prices are astronomical--$15,000 or more. And HDTV broadcasts are limited to one hour a day, mostly of Sumo wrestling and baseball. What's more, rental videos are nonexistent, since manufacturers have yet to agree on standards for consumer equipment such as high-definition VCRs. Thus, only a few Japanese households have HDTV sets.

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