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The National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan (NAB) and the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) have experienced a highly regrettable incident in which the health of viewers, particularly many children, was affected by certain special picture techniques which are used in animation programs and other types of programs.

Naturally, we are deeply concerned that a program which children should have enjoyed caused the opposite result to a part of the viewers. In order to restore the relationship of trust between the television medium and its viewers which has been built up over many years as quickly as possible, it is imperative that we fully take on the responsibility and make every effort to prevent any recurrence.

Taking this as a problem for the whole broadcasting industry, in association with experts in medicine and psychology we have conducted detailed investigations of the cause of the problem with a view to compiling concrete rules to prevent a recurrence.

It has been established that since television is by its very nature a flickering medium, it is impossible to eliminate the entire risk of an effect on viewers, particularly children. However, we also found out that, by paying attention to various points connected with the use of picture techniques which involve fast-flickering or rapidly-changing images, the risk may be avoided to a considerable degree.

In this regard, we wish to draw attention to the fact that great care must be taken over use of the following:

1. Flashing or flickering lights or images, particularly those involving the use of deep red color;

2. Brightness inversion of high-contrast images, or fast scene changes;

3. Regular patterns.

In recognition of these factors, we have resolved both to urge each broadcaster to set up independently its own internal regulations for daily application, and to present for their reference common guidelines for the broadcasting industry.

It is important that every person involved in broadcasting fully consider and understand the intentions which lie behind the compilation of the guidelines shown below, and adhere to these voluntary common rules for the broadcasting industry.

These guidelines will be revised as necessary in the light of new scientific evidence or research results.

Guidelines for Picture Techniques Used in Broadcast Programs
Especially in Animation Programs

1. As a general rule, the use of lights or images which flash or flicker more than 3 times per second should be avoided. Note also the following: (1) Particular caution should be exercised over the use of deep red color; (2) Where the use of flicker at rates higher than 3 Hz is absolutely necessary, a rate of up to 5 Hz may be used provided that the change in image brightness is less than 20% and that the duration does not exceed 2 seconds. 2. Brightness inversions of high-contrast images, or scene changes in which the image brightness changes by more than 20%, should as a general rule be limited to the rate of 3 Hz. 3. Regular patterns (stripes, spirals, concentric circles, etc.) which occupy a large proportion of the screen should be avoided.

Also, in protecting viewers from adverse effects, "the appropriate way to watch TV"also has an important part to play: protective measures include viewing TV in a well-lit room from a distance of at least 2 meters.

NAB and NHK will cooperate henceforth in their effort to provide viewers with accurate information about "the appropriate way to watch TV".

(translated by NAB Japan)
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