North Korea’s state broadcaster Korean Central Television (KCTV) is televising matches from the 2014 World Cup on a delay, with altered audio.
World Cup matches are being aired by KCTV up to 35 hours after they have been played, with footage and audio tracks being altered according to North Korean censorship standards.
KCTV broadcast the inaugural match between host nation Brazil and Croatia on Saturday evening Korean time and have since continued televising a number of high profile matches, all between 24-35 hours after the original match times.
North Korea were previously granted the rights to broadcast matches from the 2010 World Cup by the Asia-Pacific Broadcast Union (ABU) in an agreement that has been confirmed to be replicated for the current competition in Brazil.
Former director of sports at the ABU John Barton told the Associated Press in 2010: “This is sports, this is apolitical. They are receiving our signals free of charge so that the public of North Korea can watch them.”
Barton also said part of the reasoning for signing the agreement in 2010 was so North Koreans would be able, “to see what life is on the other side of the curtain.”
But in footage of the Brazil – Croatia match observed by NK News on Saturday, commentary appears overlaid on a spectator track unrelated to the actual game, with referee whistle noises and ball sounds inaudible at the correct points. In addition, the logo of the South Korean broadcast provider has been blurred out and replaced with a KCTV logo in the top left of the picture.
The 2010 agreement between North Korea, football’s governing body FIFA and the ABU allowed KCTV to broadcast footage without the high costs usually incurred for purchasing a broadcasting license. U.S. broadcasters ABC and ESPN paid close to $100 million in a joint bid for the rights to televise the 2010 and 2014 World Cups to American audiences.
The agreement to waver license costs for North Korea is consistent with FIFA’s policy of donating broadcasting rights to impoverished nations who otherwise might not be able to afford them.
North Korea is receiving its video feed from a South Korean broadcaster, with FIFA’s list of licensed broadcasters indicating SBS International Inc. as the official media rights licensee for North Korea.
SBS control the broadcasting rights for the World Cup on the Korean Peninsula.
The South Korean company accepted the FIFA and ABU agreement in 2010 despite originally denying North Korea access to their footage due to political tensions between the two countries at the time.
South Korea play their first group game of the tournament against Russia on Tuesday and are due to kick off at 7am Korea Standard Time.
It is unclear if North Korea intend to televise the South Korean match.
Image: Wikimedia Commons 2010 World Cup North Korea vs Brazil
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