Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Spirit of Radio - Part II

Unloved and largely unused, car radio in Japan tends to be something you're more likely to experience when your taxi driver is listening to the baseball. Satellite radio failed to take off after a number of the early stations went bankrupt, the in car equipment setting the avid fan back by several thousand dollars, it couldn't generate the audience to support the airwaves. Terrestrial radio, as discussed here, carries so few channels it's not too popular either.

Interference free, land based digital radio, popular around the world and not requiring a satellite dish to be strapped to your car roof, has also not raised it's head in Japan but one thing has. In-car TV. Popular for keeping the kids quiet in the back seats, with the use of a $50 conversion kit, the dash mounted navigation system can be enabled to display television too. It is illegal to sell a new car with front seat TV, but drive around the corner and there will be a man with a spanner to help.

And this is slightly strange given the stringent road safety laws in Japan. You must pull over to use your mobile phone and the blood alcohol limit is actually zero for drivers with penalties for passengers too if the driver fails a breath test. But for TV the law simply expresses a desire the driver won't stare at the screen whilst driving. Glancing apparently is fine. And remembering that navi systems also take DVD's, when you're driving around, whatever you do, do not let the kids look inside the car next to you! Or be prepared for some very awkward questions...

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