N Korea @ World Cup: Why Pirated Tape Delay?

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 6/16/2010 12:08:00 AM
Well I'll be damned: contrary to almost everyone's expectations, North Korea fought toe to toe with mighty Brazil in their World Cup fixture. Up to the 55th minute, a stingy North Korean defence (OK, so they often kept five back, but I'd have done the same against Brazil) held things to nil-nil. Eventually, however, the laudable North Koreans tired somewhat and the genius of Brazilian football shone through. Still, Ji Yun-nam pulled one back with a brilliant goal near the match's end, reflecting the high-spirited play of North Korea.

It's a pity that the folks at home will have to make do with watching North Korea's valiant effort only a day after the rest of the world did. You see, South Korea holds the rights to broadcast this event in the Korean peninsula. What's more, the rather cash-strapped DPRK hasn't negotiated the rights to show World Cup matches in the Communist state. Additionally, the suspected torpedoing of a South Korean vessel by the North Koreans hasn't exactly been a reflection of sunshine policy. Hence, it should be of no surprise that North Korean state broadcasters stand accused of pirating South Korea's video feed.

On top of likely stealing the video feed, it's even being delayed to ensure the correct impression is made on the North Korean public. First, there may have been political messages in the crowd inadvertently flashed about the plight of North Korea. Second, the scoreline may need to be massaged to create the impression of "victory," howsoever defined. From the WSJ:
North Korea's TV station showed the opening game of the World Cup on Saturday though it didn't have the right to do so, and South Korea's official tournament broadcaster is trying to figure out if its signal was pirated for viewing in the North. State-run North Korea Central Broadcasting showed a taped replay of the South Africa-Mexico game, but the screen was enlarged to remove graphic elements [channel logos] from the picture, making it difficult to tell whether the station recorded a transmission from South Korea or China.

North Korea illegally used some South Korean broadcasts of the 2002 World Cup, but in 2006 it made an arrangement to obtain TV coverage legally from a South Korean network. For this year's tournament, the South Korean TV network SBS, which purchased broadcast rights for the Korean peninsula from World Cup organizer FIFA, held two meetings with North Korea's state-run broadcaster to pick up its coverage. But the two sides didn't come to an agreement, says Yang Chul-hoon, chief of the inter-Korean department at SBS. The network is now studying the video.

North Korea's soccer team qualified for the World Cup this year for the first time since 1966, when it reached the quarterfinals. But analysts say the country is unlikely to show live broadcasts of its own team—-legally obtained or not-—because of fears by its authoritarian government that the team will perform poorly or the prospect that protesters who dislike the North will be given screen time...

North Korea's coach, Kim Jong Hun, said during a news conference at the Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg, where the team will play Tuesday, that the match will be broadcast in his country. "I am not involved in broadcast, but it will probably be shown on TV," he added.
Now that's what I call image management--albeit internal. But hey, if you're not a WTO member, do intellectual property rights really matter that much? To expand on Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, intellectual property is theft. If you're into the most trivial of trivia, though, the DPRK is a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) member.