Seoul: North Korea will not get free television coverage of the World Cup soccer finals in June from South Korea in the wake of recent “provocative” actions, a news report from the South said on Tuesday.
North Korea are making their first appearance at the World Cup finals in 44 years, hoping to repeat a run they made in England in 1966 where they reached the quarter finals.
South Korean officials have not officially accused the North of sinking a navy ship in March but have made little secret of their belief Pyongyang deliberately torpedoed the corvette Cheonan near their disputed border in retaliation for a naval clash last year.
“In view of its recent provocative postures against the South, it is the government’s position that the North must pay an adequate price negotiated under internationally accepted norms,” the JoongAng Ilbo daily quoted a government official as saying.
“Broadcast signals are subject to state authorisation for transmission (to the North),” the official said, indicating the government would reject an application from the South’s official broadcaster for the World Cup finals, SBS, to transmit there.
SBS has broadcasts rights to all of the Korean peninsula, according to FIFA. It was not clear if neighbouring China has the right to share coverage with North Korea.
South Korea, under the predecessor liberal government, provided video for the 2006 World Cup finals to the North at no cost, paying for 150 million won (USD 132,500) in expenses including the use of satellites from government funds.
The move to block coverage could incite public outcry in the North and hurt the government, which bans broadcasts from the outside world with only a few exceptions including soccer games from Europe and Latin America.
Though the public can put up with the depravation and poverty, they are not likely to stand for being left in the dark on the World Cup, defectors from the North have said.
Ties between the two Koreas, still technically at war, have turned increasingly hostile since South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office in 2008 and cut off aid to the destitute neighbour, with Pyongyang accusing him of deliberately ruining any chance of peace.