Networks in Olympic-level brawl

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Networks in Olympic-level brawl

<그래픽을 누르시면 크게 보실 수 있습니다>

A 2006 deal that left SBS with the exclusive rights to broadcast the Vancouver Winter Olympics now has the other two major networks crying foul.

And with the opening ceremonies looming, KBS and MBC are making a desperate last-ditch effort to claim their stakes in the Winter Games.

In a shift from past practice, in which SBS, KBS and MBC shared broadcasting rights to all major international sporting events, viewers can only turn to SBS to watch Kim Yu-na and other athletes in Vancouver this month.

SBS is set to send 50 reporters and broadcasters along with 120 cameramen and crew, while KBS will be limited to three reporters and four cameramen without access cards and MBC will send two reporters and two cameramen without access cards.

The broadcasting rights granted by the International Olympic Committee even place restrictions on KBS and MBC airing highlights footage during news reports.

KBS and MBC petitioned the Korea Communications Commission on Jan. 26, arguing that one network claiming the rights to a major international sporting event goes against the KCC’s universal viewership law.

KBS and MBC contend the three networks can still share the broadcasting rights if an agreement is reached within three days of the start of the Winter Games, but SBS is firm in its stance that all preparations for the Olympics are complete and it’s now too late to make changes.

The dispute goes back to May 26, 2006, when the three networks agreed to share the rights to broadcast the Olympics and World Cup events and submitted an application to co-broadcast the Winter Olympics to the IOC. However, on June 15, 2006, SBS broke the agreement and, with the help of one of its subsidiary companies, paid 11 trillion won ($9.5 million) more than the agreed amount for the rights to broadcast all Olympic events through 2016 as well as the 2010 and 2014 World Cup events.

KBS and MBC asked SBS to cancel the deal, then proceeded to exclude SBS from other broadcast agreements. At the time SBS was willing to rework the deal to include the KBS and MBC, but the two networks did not show much interest. They also failed to show much reaction when SBS proceeded to submit its application to cover the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

But after three years, KBS submitted a request to rework the broadcasting deal on the Olympics and World Cup. And then SBS dug in its heels.

“We prepared for the Winter Olympics on our own for the past three years due to the other two networks’ indifference, and now they want to jump on the bandwagon,” said an SBS official. “Since we are collaborating with another company, it’s not a problem for us to reach viewers in regional cities.”

To complicate matters further, IB Sports, a sports marketing firm, petitioned the Seoul Southern District Court in December to stop SBS from broadcasting the Olympics and World Cup in regional cities. IB Sports claimed it reached a secret agreement with SBS for a part of the stake when SBS purchased the rights three years ago.

However, the Seoul Southern District Court dismissed the case yesterday on the grounds that details of an agreement between the two sides were not ironed out following the initial agreement, IB Sports took no action for a long period of time and such an action could cause significant financial damage to the network.

While it won’t matter much to the viewers which network broadcasts major sporting events, with viewership and advertising profits thrown into the mix, SBS, KBS and MBC are expected to continue to clash over the rights to broadcast the Olympics and World Cup.

By Sohn Jang-hwan []
Related Korean Article

독점 중계권 있는 SBS와 협상 불발 방통위에 조정신청

(SBS) 중계팀 120명+ 취재팀 50명.

(KBS) 취재기자 3명+ID카드 없는 카메라팀 4명.

(MBC) 취재기자 2명+ID카드 없는 카메라팀 2명.

2010 밴쿠버 겨울올림픽12일(한국시간 13일) 개막하는 밴쿠버 겨울올림픽에 지상파 방송 3사가 파견하는 규모다.

왜 이렇게 차이가 날까. SBS가 국제올림픽위원회(IOC)로부터 밴쿠버 올림픽 국내 중계권을 단독으로 따냈기 때문이다. 한국 피겨사상 첫 금메달을 기대하는 김연아의 연기 장면은 물론 올림픽 전 경기를 SBS를 통해서만 볼 수 있다. 그뿐 아니다. 중계권이 없는 방송사는 뉴스용 화면도 찍을 수 없다. KBS와 MBC는 뉴스 때도 동영상 없는 ‘죽은 뉴스’를 해야 한다.

발등에 불이 떨어진 KBS와 MBC는 지난달 26일 방송통신위원회에 독점 중계에 따른 방송분쟁조정신청서를 냈다. 방송법에 규정된 ‘보편적 시청권’에 따라 올림픽을 방송 3사가 공동으로 중계할 수 있도록 중재해 달라는 요구다. SBS는 “우리는 단독 중계로 간다”며 요지부동이다.

올림픽 중계를 놓고 지상파 방송 3사 간 ‘전쟁’이 세게 붙었다.

공을 넘겨받은 방통위는 곤혹스럽다. 나름대로 여론을 살펴보니 시청자 입장에서는 ‘어느 방송에서 중계하든 상관없다’는 의견이 만만찮다. 결론을 내리기엔 시간도 너무 촉박하다. KBS와 MBC는 개막 3일 전까지만 합의하면 스튜디오에서 중계가 가능하다는 입장이지만 SBS는 이미 모든 계약과 준비가 끝난 상태이기 때문에 현실적으로 불가능하다고 한다.

◆왜 전쟁이 일어났나=문제의 발단은 2006년으로 거슬러 올라간다. 올림픽과 월드컵 중계권을 놓고 당시 방송 3사는 ‘코리아 풀’을 만들어 공동 대처하자고 합의했다. 그러나 SBS가 합의를 깨고 자회사를 통해 합의 금액보다 950만 달러(약 110억원)를 더 주고 2016년까지 여름·겨울올림픽(2010, 2012, 2014, 2016)과 월드컵(2010, 2014) 독점 중계 계약을 했다. KBS와 MBC는 합의 위반이라며 계약 취소를 요구했다. 양사는 SBS가 결과적으로 국부 유출을 했다고 비난하면서 그 후 주요 중계에서 SBS를 제외했다. SBS는 재중계권 협상을 시도했으나 양사의 반응은 시큰둥했다. 올림픽 중계와 보도를 위한 신청서를 밴쿠버 조직위에 낼 때도 양사는 무반응이었다. 그렇게 3년이 흘렀다. 그리고 지난해 12월 초, KBS가 협상 공문을 보냈고 이번엔 SBS가 거부했다.

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