North won’t get free World Cup coverage: South

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North won’t get free World Cup coverage: South

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남아공 월드컵에 참가할 북한 선수단이 스위스 전지훈련을 위해 8일 평양 순안공항에서 고려항공기에 오르고 있다. 1966년 잉글랜드 대회 이후 첫 본선에 진출한 북한은 SBS 측에 TV중계 화면 무상 제공을 요구하고 있다. [평양 AP=연합뉴스]

South Korea will not broadcast the upcoming World Cup to North Korea unless the cash-strapped nation is willing to pay for the feed, a South Korean government official said yesterday.

While the South provided the North with free coverage of the 2006 Cup under the previous administration, this year’s measure is in response to recent North Korean provocations.

The airways are among the products that require government approval before reaching North Korea. An official at the Unification Ministry in Seoul said yesterday that while SBS, the South Korean broadcaster of the World Cup, reserves the right to manage its coverage, “Considering the North’s series of provocations to South Korea of late, our government believes that the North must pay an appropriate price after proper negotiations that abide by international regulations.”

The two sides had negotiated over broadcast rights last August and again in January. Sources said North Korea demanded a free feed, but SBS said that if North Korea didn’t have the cash, it should at least help SBS produce the games.

Last Wednesday, North Korea asked for more negotiations, but this time SBS has not responded.

“We told the North Koreans that it would be difficult to push our negotiations any further given the South Korean public’s sentiment on North Korea, with regard to the Cheonan sinking,” an official at SBS said. “And we don’t plan on offering a free feed to North Korea, anyway.”

Tensions between the two countries have run high since the South Korean Navy patrol corvette sank on March 26. Investigators have found traces of an explosive among the wreckage, and North Korea is suspected of having launched a torpedo attack on the warship.

Last month, North Korea seized South Korean facilities at Mount Kumgang, in response to the South’s refusal to resume tours at the resort. The tours were suspended in July 2008, after a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a North Korean soldier in a nearby military zone and the North failed to respond to the South’s demand for security guarantees.

The World Cup begins in South Africa on June 11. SBS said if North Korea wants to secure coverage, negotiations must wrap up by the end of this month at the latest.

North Korean interest in this year’s tournament may be particularly keen because the country is playing its first World Cup since 1966. This is also the first time the two Koreas are competing at the same World Cup.

The North’s first game is June 15 against five-time Cup champion Brazil in Johannesburg. North Korea will play in the so-called “Group of Death,” with Brazil and powerhouses Ivory Coast and Portugal.

When the 2006 World Cup in Germany took place, the Roh Moo-hyun administration practiced a more engaging policy than that of current President Lee Myung-bak. North Korea received a free feed from the games, and the South dipped into the state-run inter-Korean cooperation fund and broadcast development fund to cover the 150 million won ($132,600) in costs.


By Lee Young-jong [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]
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정부 “방송전파도 반출 승인 대상” 불허 방침, 천안함·금강산 감안, 사실상 대북제재 첫 조치


정부가 한 달 앞으로 다가온 남아프리카공화국 월드컵과 관련해 경기 중계 화면을 북한에 무상으로 제공하는 것을 허용하지 않기로 방침을 정했다. 통일부 관계자는 10일 “경기 화면 대북 송출은 기본적으로 한반도 지역 중계권을 가진 SBS 측의 결정사항”이라며 “하지만 최근 북한의 도발적 대남태도를 감안할 때 국제사회의 규범에 맞는 협상 절차에 따른 적절한 대가를 북한이 지불해야 한다는 게 정부 입장”이라고 말했다. 다른 당국자는 “방송 전파도 대북 반출 승인대상”이라며 정부 원칙에 어긋날 경우 제재할 수 있음을 내비쳤다. 정부의 이런 입장은 천안함이 북한 소행으로 침몰한 쪽으로 좁혀지고 있는 데다 북한이 금강산 내 남측 부동산을 몰수하는 등 대남 위협을 가하고 있는 상황을 반영한 사실상의 대북 제재 조치로 풀이된다.

노무현 정부 시절인 2006년 독일 월드컵 때는 정부가 북한의 요구대로 경기 화면을 무상 제공했으며, 위성사용료 등 1억5000만원을 남북협력기금과 방송발전기금에서 충당했다. 또 월드컵뿐만 아니라 각종 국제경기에 참여하는 북한 선수단에 경기용품과 소요 경비 등을 지원했다. 통일부 당국자는 “이번의 경우 북한 측에 유니폼이나 축구공 같은 물품도 제공하지 않기로 입장을 정리했다”고 말했다.


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