(Reuters) – A North Korean state television has aired unauthorized coverage of the opening and several other early matches of the World Cup in South Africa, South Korean media reports said on Sunday.
Sports | South Korea | North Korea
The North Korean Central Broadcasting Station has aired the opening match between host South Africa and Mexico late on Saturday and are expected to air on Sunday some of the matches held a day before but not arch rival South Korea’s, they said.
SBS channel in Seoul, which has the exclusive broadcast rights over the whole of the Korean peninsula, said in a report North Korea has been airing the coverage without any consent from the SBS broadcasting company.
North Korea has made it to the finals in South Africa for the first time in 44 years but its earlier negotiations with the South’s SBS over the broadcasting rights have faltered early this year, Seoul’s media reports said.
Further negotiations have not been made mainly because tensions between the two Koreas, technically at war since their war ended in an armed truce nearly 60 years ago, have risen to the highest in years over the sinking of a South Korean war ship.
The South has accused the North of torpedoing the Cheonan off the west coast in late March, killing 46 sailors, whereas Pyongyang has denied the accusation and warned of military conflicts should the South keep increasing tensions.
North Korea aired the 2006 World Cup matches after the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union granted the impoverished country the broadcasting rights free of charge, but aired the 2002 matches without getting authorization.
“FIFA is discussing with the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union regarding access to the signal for the North Korean public broadcaster,” said FIFA, soccer’s governing body, in a statement.
“FIFA expects to have more information in the coming days.”
(Reporting by Suh Kyung-min, Editing by Yoo Choonsik/Jon Bramley)