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St.GIGA (セント・ギガ Sento.GIGA?) is the name of a defunct satellite radio company that was formed as a subsidiary of satellite television company WOWOW and later became semi-independent, forming a keiretsu with its parent.[2] Using the BS network to broadcast digital radio via direct broadcast satellite as a test on 30 November 1990, St.GIGA became the world's first Satellite Digital Audio Broadcast Corporation.[3][4] Regular broadcasting began 30 March 1991,[4] and by 1 September, St.GIGA adopted the commercial-free concept proposed by producer Hiroshi Yokoi and began to charge a broadcasting subscription fee.[5] Following a period of financial difficulties and as part of an agreement with Nintendo, from between April 1995 and June 2000, St.GIGA broadcast digitally encoded video games to owners of Super Famicoms with the Satellaview attachment.[6] Satellaview broadcasts were limited in distribution to Japan alone,[7] however through St.GIGA's services Nintendo broadcast a large number of rare ura- and gaiden-versions of some of their most popular franchises (e.g. The Legend of Zelda, Mario, and Kirby, etc.).[8][9][10][11] With the exception of BS Fire Emblem: Akaneia Senki, these games have never been re-released and can only be played today via incomplete emulation.[12]

Satellite historyEdit

Broadcast between 11 March 1990 and 28 November 2007 St.GIGA has undergone a number of changes of both carrier satellite and broadcast band. The following is a condensed history of these changes:[13]

  • 2 April 1990 - St.GIGA is founded.[14]
  • St.GIGA began broadcasts on BS-3ch in 1990 via the BS-2a satellite.[15]
  • In August 1991, St.GIGA switched to the BS-3b satellite, and in September it began broadcasting on BS-5ch[13]
  • 23 April 1995 - Broadcasts begin to the Super Famicom add-on, Satellaview.
  • April 1999 - Nintendo withdraws support.[13]
  • 30 June 2000 - Last Satellaview broadcast.[13]
  • On 1 December 2000, St.GIGA began simultaneous broadcasts on Radio 333ch (Data broadcasting via 633 and 636ch)[13][16][17]
  • 21 March 2003 - St.GIGA becomes Club COSMO.[13]
  • 1 October 2003 - Club COSMO sold to WINJ[13]
  • In 2005, Club COSMO's 5ch broadcasts became analog (31 March) and the switch to 333ch was completed (10 May)[13]
  • 2006 - WINJ begins St.GIGA rebroadcasts[13]
  • On 28 November 2007 all affiliated broadcast bands are terminated and the satellite broadcast certificate is revoked.[13]

The St.GIGA conceptEdit

In 1990 the established Japanese satellite television company, WOWOW, decided to expand their services into the field of satellite radio. The core management team made the executive decision to create a subsidiary named St.GIGA. The name was selected by a popular poll of the man on the street because the executives agreed that they knew nothing about music. In deciding who to hire as director for the subsidiary, Hiroshi Yokoi (横井宏?) (who had recently designed the successful J-Wave FM) was selected as an innovator in the field.[2]

Soon after accepting the position, Yokoi crafted a radical proposal for the station concept. The initial reaction at WOWOW was skeptical, however within a few months of traditional satellite radio broadcasts, Yokoi's concept was given probationary adoption, and Yokoi was subsequently given full discretion to shape the company's future.[2]

Yokoi's "Tide of Sound"Edit

Under Hiroshi Yokoi's direction, the St.GIGA station motto became "I'm here. — I'm glad you're there. — We are St.GIGA."[18][19] This is a reference[20] to Kurt Vonnegut's The Sirens of Titan in which the alien life forms called harmoniums communicate using only the phrases "Here I am." and "So glad you are."[21] Strongly influenced by the works of Kurt Vonnegut and Kevin W. Kelley's The Home Planet,[22] Yokoi's original concept proposal for St.GIGA would break new ground for broadcast communication methodology.

In accordance with Yokoi's conception, St.GIGA's broadcasts initially followed no externally fixed (or artificial) timetable. Rather they were based upon the cyclical motif of a 24-hour "tide table"[23] where broadcast themes were approximately matched to the current tidal cycle according to the rule of twelfths throughout the 24-hour broadcasting period.[24][25][26] Under this innovative schedule, the station broadcast a variety of primarily ambient music programs including Music Tide (音楽潮流 Ongaku Chouryuu?), various jazz programs,[27][28] and Tide Table (タイド・テーブル Taido . Teburu?) (featuring live sound-broadcasts of the ocean shore). The beginnings and ends of programs were not clearly demarcated and instead utilized the unprecedented "Tide of Sound" (音の潮流 Oto no Chouryuu?) method where songs of one genre would gradually flow into and intersperse with the songs from the prior genre until the new genre became predominant.[2] The intent, according to Yokoi was to allow the listener to relax in a wave of sound "like a baby sleeps in the womb." [23] "Tide of Sounds" broadcasts operated under a principle of "No Commercials, No DJs, No News Broadcasts, No Talk." Unlike most commercial-driven radio broadcasts, this was made possible for St.GIGA due to its reliance on a subscription Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) service. In order to receive this DAB service, the subscriber was required to obtain a special decoder, to pay an initiation fee, and subsequent monthly fees.[29] "Tide of Sounds" broadcasts often took the form of high-quality digital recordings of nature sounds accompanied by spoken word narration by an actor as the "Voice."[30] Throughout the life span of "Tide of Sounds" broadcasts, the part of the "Voice" would be played by a number of notable Japanese poets including Ryo Michiko among others.[31] "Voice" performances often consisted of all new poetry composed specifically for the show.

St.GIGA also broadcast its B-mode audio programming (a series of all classical music broadcasts) over analog broadcasting frequency bands that were shared with its parent, the satellite broadcasting company WOWOW.

Highly artistic and experimental, the St.GIGA sound became extremely popular within certain segments of the population, and the station was recognized for its innovative concept, unique vision, and nonstandard methodology.[32] Fan publications such as BSFan Journal and G-Mania sprang up to publish details of the music and to report on the ambient, mood, and electronic scene that was burgeoning in Japan.[33] To this day numerous fan groups, trading groups, and collectors with an emphasis on St.GIGA's musical products exist online.[34]

The initial popularity of the music funded trips by St.GIGA biomusic recorders to travel abroad to record at such exotic locations as England, Canary Islands, Mikonos, Venice, Bali, Tahiti, Martinique, Hanson Island (BC), and Maui.[35][36][37] St.GIGA was also able to release a number of thematic books including the multi-volume St.GIGA Stylebook, Current of dreams: An introduction St.GIGA programming (Yume no choryu: St.Giga hensei soron?) (containing the full text of Yokoi's original concept proposal[22]), and Trends in Dreaming - St.GIGA's Hiroshi Yokoi's General Office (夢の潮流 -St.GIGA編成総論横井宏著 発行所?) (also released on VHS[38]). Later thematic films were sold including Traveling with St.GIGA (1999)[39] and Sound and Vision (2007)[40]

St. Giga and other satellite radio broadcasters found it hard to attract paying subscribers as Japan's recession made consumer reluctant to invest in the expensive antennas and tuners needed to pick up satellite broadcasts.

Billboard Magazine, 23 July 1994[41]

St.GIGA sold a variety of products ranging from program guides[42] to "sound calendars"[43] to fragrances.[44] They also released a number of CDs under St.GIGA's own label as well as a variety of foreign labels such as the Hearts of Space,[30] and music by Deep Forest.[45]

Unfortunately for St.GIGA, the market for ambient music and its related forms was not as strong as initially anticipated, and demand was impacted by Japan's recession. By 1994, the station was beginning to face serious financial difficulties, resulting in drastic changes in programming.[41]

Satellite Data broadcastingEdit

Main article: Satellaview
Nintendo expects to sell 2 million [Satellaview] adapter/cassette packages a year.

Unlike St. Giga's regular programming, the new data service will feature paid advertising. Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi [said] that Nintendo expects to sell 2 million adapter/cassette packages a year.

Billboard Magazine, 23 July 1994[41]

By 1994, St.GIGA's financial difficulties resulted in the cutting back of "Tide of Sound" broadcasts. Their portion of the subscription-funded audio broadcasts were to be replaced under subcontract by an all new series of advertising-funded Satellite Data broadcasts, managed under the "rescue" and executive control[46] of Nintendo, St.GIGA's largest shareholder at 19.5%.[41][47]

Beginning on 23 April 1995, St.GIGA broadcast video-game-related data to owners of the Super Famicom's Satellaview[48][49][50][51] peripheral created by Nintendo. This device bolts onto the underside of the Super Famicom[52] in a manner similar to the later Nintendo 64DD's attachment to the Nintendo 64 and the Game Boy Player's attachment to the GameCube. Only released to the Japanese market, the Satellaview acted as a satellite modem,[53] allowing players to download broadcast data. The resulting games were then stored on requisite specialized rewritable storage cartridges at an additional launch price of 14,000 yen ($143).[41]

The broadcast content ranged from video-game-related Satellaview news and specific interest journals such as Game Tiger's big House (ゲーム虎の大穴 Gemu Tora no OoAna?) to expansion data for popular Super Famicom games (including, for example, Chrono Trigger) and all new video game releases including titles in such flagship series as The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, and Kirby.[53] Additionally, a number of these broadcasts featured an updated version of St.GIGA's earlier "Tide of Sounds" "Voice," now called "SoundLink" (サウンドリンク?), with which St.GIGA voice actors would provide a live vocal track to accompany games, setting plot and describing in-game goals.

Due to the rewritability of the cartridges, the fact that "SoundLink" broadcasts were not downloaded to the game cartridges but rather were streamed live during the noon-2AM[54] Super Famicom Hour broadcasting time, and because the broadcast game data has never been re-released by Nintendo, these games have become extremely rare. The subculture of collectors and enthusiasts that has grown online have exerted much effort engaged in electronic archaeology by extracting old data from heavily rewritten data cartridges in order to faithfully reproduce the games via emulation.[55]

Aside from St.GIGA's "SoundLink" or broadcasts accompanying the transmission of data for their "Soundlink Games" (サウンドリンクゲーム?), St.GIGA also broadcast a wealth of information on talk shows and celebrity idols, including a variety show.[51] Broadcast times were fitted to match the schedules of students, and the station's audience demographics shifted radically much to the disappointment of the station's former ambient music fans. Before long the station had ceased transmissions of all "Time & Tide" programs (those featuring new age music) including the much-admired Tidal Currents (潮の潮流 Shio no Chouryuu?), Fan publications such as BSFan Journal became replaced by more populist publications like Satellaview Communications Magazine (サテラビュー通信 Saterabyu Tsuushin?),[56] and St.GIGA focused all energies on Satellaview transmissions.[57]

Satellaview transmissions continued uninterruptedly with only a single recertification[58] between 1995 and April 1999. Carrying a "cumulative debt of 8.8 billion yen" as of March 1998, a Reuters report on 21 August 1998 indicated St.GIGA's rejection of Nintendo's debt management proposal as well as the broadcaster's failure to apply for renewal of its governmental satellite license. This resulted in the withdrawal of Nintendo's five executive staff, and the withdrawal of all current and proposed programming plans by Nintendo, Kyocera, and "many content providers", that had been intended for launch in 2000; though Nintendo's 19.7% ownership portfolio remained intact.[46] St.GIGA continued Satellaview broadcasts after this point; however, they could only broadcast reruns of games previously transmitted as Nintendo had discontinued their supply of new original content as of March 1999. Facing economic difficulties again, St.GIGA discontinued its Satellaview broadcasts on 30 June 2000 in order to return focus to music broadcasts as they had prior to the Nintendo deal.[46]

Later years and current statusEdit

By 2001, St.GIGA was nearly bankrupt and entered into merger talks with WireBee Inc. (株式会社ワイヤービー Kabushikigaisha Waiyabi?) with which it became associated for the remainder of its lifespan.[59] On 21 March 2003, following the death by cancer of director Yokoi,[57][60] St.GIGA was rechristened Club COSMO (クラブコスモ Kurabukosumo?) under the leadership of Shinichi Matsuo (松尾信一?). Broadcasts continued until 1 October, when the company was forced to sell their licensing rights to World Independent Networks Japan Inc. (WINJ). WireBee immediately began bankruptcy procedures,[61] and all recording instruments and 241 tapes of nature sounds were auctioned off at open market for a total divided sale price of ¥5 million. Discussions concerning Club COSMO's involvement under WINJ's oversight in a new reality show were circulated briefly at this time, however to date no such show has been produced.

In 2006, WINJ began broadcasting reruns of St.GIGA's original "Tide of Sound" and "Time & Tide" broadcasts during a 2PM-4PM time slot,[62] however on 1 November of the same year these broadcasts were suspended on the pretext of broadcasting equipment maintenance. The program was scheduled to resume in the 2007 fiscal year, however on 14 November 2007, Hiroya Masuda the Minister of Internal Affairs revoked the broadcasting certificate under Act 54 of Article 24 of the Japanese General Broadcasting Statute.[63]

See alsoEdit


  1. 会社案内. St.GIGA. Archived on 20 September 2000.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Chan, Koko. St.GIGA Sound of the Earth. Via Internet Archive.
  3. さよならセント・ギガ. 30 September 2003.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Mamoru, Sakamoto. PCM音声放送デッドヒートのゆくえ(St.GIGA開局前夜. Alpha-Net. 2 October 2003.
  5. セント・ギガ ギャラリー ● スクリーン・ミューター. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  6. Kameb. スーパーファミコンアワー番組表 The Satellaview History Museum. 12 February 2008.
  7. Sega, Nintendo et la Télevision.... C+. p42. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  8. Crash Course on the Satellaview System. Chrono Series Database. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  9. 30 Great Gaming World Records. Console Hardware News. 15 February 2009.
  10. Retrospective: BS Zelda. IGN. 8 June 2006.
  11. Super Famicom Central: Satellaview. Super Famicom Central. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  12. Broadcast Satellaview - X. BlameTheControlpad. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 13.7 13.8 13.9 セント・ギガの歴史. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  14. BSラジオ放送のセント・ギガ、民事再生法申請. Nikkei New Media. 26 July 2001.
  15. Satellite Frequency from BSAT 1A,2A. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  16. 衛星データ放送. 文字放送・データ放送・インタラクティブ放送. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  17. セント・ギガ 衛星データ放送. St.GIGA. Archived on 12 February 2001.
  18. セントギガの例の台詞. St.GIGA. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  19. 【BS-5ch】衛星デジタル音楽放送 St.GIGA その1 St.GIGA. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  20. Murasaki. Proguramming Concept. Retrieved 15 February 2009.
  21. Vonnegut, Kurt. The Sirens of Titan. Random House, Inc. 1959. p189. 1998. ISBN 978-0-385-33349-8
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  23. 23.0 23.1 Toop, David & Réveillon, Arnaud. Ocean of Sound: ambient music, mondes imaginaires et voix de l'éther. Editions Kargo. Pp. 164-5. 2000. ISBN 2-84162-048-4
  24. セント・ギガ ギャラリー ● タイムテーブル. May–December 1993.
  25. Colors of Seasons. St.GIGA. 1 September 1991.
  26. 夢の潮流 -St.GIGA編成総論横井宏著 発行所 St.GIGA. Apdx 4. September 1991.
  27. Midnight Jazz Hank De Mano Quartet 「in concert」他. 26 October 2006.
  28. Midnight Jazz - Judy Bailey Trio/Quintet 「My Favourite Things」 他. 26 October 2006.
  29. Valenti, Gregory. Digital Audio Broadcasting: An International Perspective on Compact-Disc Quality Radio. 8 Am. U. J. Int'l L. & Pol'y 273, 289, 295-7 (1992).
  30. 30.0 30.1 St.GIGA NEWS. St.GIGA. 1 September 1991.
  31. Michiko, Ryo. Voice/寮美千子の詩. Retrieved 19 February 2009.
  32. INTERVIEW : 音のある世界で MDと風鈴を持って、山へ Vol. 2  駒沢敏器さん. SoundBum. 25 November 1998.
  33. BSfan誌(共同通信社)連載記事. June 1992 - January 1993.
  34. St.GIGA Soundstream Fan Club. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  35. St.GIGA CREW'S. St.GIGA. p. 25-26. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  36. Murasaki. St.GIGA Stylebook. 1 February 2001.
  37. St.GIGA stylebook. Vol. 2, 1991.
  38. 夢の潮流 -St.GIGA編成総論横井宏著 発行所. 28 October 1991.
  39. SPUTNIK SPACELINES/Tokyo Designers Block 2002 LIVE EVENT@SPUTNIK DOME. Tokyo Designers Block 2002. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
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  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 41.3 41.4 McClure, Steve (23 July 1994). "Japan's St. Giga to broadcast Nintendo Games". Billboard. 106 (30): 78, 84. Retrieved 26 May 2014. 
  42. セント・ギガ ギャラリー - ● プログラムガイド. Retrieved 19 February 2009.
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  45. Quest for Saint. St.GIGA. 1993.
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  48. US 6611957 
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  52. Famicom Central. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
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  54. Sinhonggyun. 한국전파 진흥협회 Korean Aerospace University. Retrieved 19 February 2009.
  55. bsnes v0.038 released ZSNES Board. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  56. Kameb. サテラビュー通信記事紹介. June 1995-May 1996.
  57. 57.0 57.1 I'm here. I'm glad you are there. - サヨナラSt.GIGA.
  58. MPT’s Regular Personnel Changes. Biweekly Newsletter of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Japan. Vol. 10, No. 8. p.2. 2 August 1999. ISSN 0917-169X
  59. St.GIGA,民事再生手続きが終了,ディジタルBS放送専業で再出発. Nikkei New Media. 10 June 2002.
  60. Nagano, Doranka. 第226回ランキング. 25 May 2007.
  61. Tadayuki, Mitani 2-4(2)160 衛星デジタル音楽放送(株). The Mitani Tadayuki Law Office. 18 January 2010.
  62. WINJタイムテーブル. Retrieved 20 February 2009.
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