North Korea seal TV deal for World Cup
North Korean fans will get to watch the World Cup for free, as Asia's broadcasting union announced that it would be providing a free feed for the country.
South Korea's SBS television, which owns broadcast rights for the entire Korean peninsula, had looked set to impose a TV blackout on the North as the two countries continue their political standoff following the March sinking of a South Korean warship that Seoul has blamed on Pyongyang which has put them on the brink of war.
However, John Barton, the sport director of the Kuala Lumpur-based Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), said he signed a contract with FIFA that would allow North Korean fans to watch the football - just in time for their first game against Brazil.
"They have got the live feeds with the blessing of FIFA. They are legitimate, they are not pirating, they are not doing anything wrong," Barton told the Associated Press. "This is sports, this is apolitical. They are receiving our signals free of charge so that the public of North Korea can watch them. We want them to see what life is on the other side of the curtain."
Barton added that the aim is give the North Koreans "aspirations and hopes," but while the ABU is providing the North Koreans with a live feed of the matches, it will still be up to Kim Jong-Il's government whether to broadcast them. It has been reported that the only TV station in the country, the state-owned Korean Central Broadcasting, may show the matches one day later.