Watching the cup
Satellite dishes cover roofs of shacks in the Sidi
Moumen slum of Casablanca Some broadcasters
have been priced out of the World Cup
The politics of World Cup-watching
By Peter Feuilherade
A cumulative audience of more than 32 billion viewers around the world are expected to have watched the 64 World Cup matches on TV or other media by the time the final is played on Sunday 9 July.
In a few countries, people are looking forward to watching the contest on television for the first time.
The politics behind securing access to the broadcasts, and the difficulties people in some countries face in watching them, closely follow some of the world's current geopolitical fault lines.
In North Korea, state TV began broadcasting World Cup matches supplied by satellite free of charge by South Korea three days after the opening game.
The broadcasts screened in the North were reportedly pre-recorded and edited versions, broadcast terrestrially and were expected to include games involving South Korea, who played their opening game against Togo on 13 June.
In Afghanistan, television broadcasts were banned during Taleban rule from 1996-2001. But this year several Afghan TV stations were planning to screen World Cup matches live
"Now that North Koreans can watch the South Koreans in the tournament, we hope it will contribute to recovering our identity as one people," said a statement by the (South) Korean Central Broadcasting Commission.
The deal has the approval of FIFA and the Switzerland-based Infront Sport and Media, FIFA's business representative for the sales of broadcast rights.
Although the South and the North remain technically at war since the 1950-1953 conflict in the Korean peninsula, relations have improved since a summit their leaders held in 2000.
During the 2002 World Cup staged in South Korea and Japan, Seoul sent videotapes to North Korea a day or two after the games, and during the 2004 Athens Olympics it offered the North a live feed of major events.
In Indonesia, meanwhile, former President Suharto's daughter Titiek appeared on private television channel SCTV on World Cup opening night as a football pundit and presenter of the Germany-Costa Rica game, prompting complaints that the Suharto clan was hijacking the world's biggest sporting event to polish up its tarnished image.
"Technically speaking, she is not someone who knows a lot about football," said Ade Armando of the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission, adding that the move was politically provocative.
Nor was Titiek's on-screen appearance likely to attract many viewers, he ventured.
A spokesman for SCTV defended Titiek's appearance, saying it was meant to expand the channel's audience.
"As for Titiek, she has to improve her skill as a presenter," he conceded.
posted by Steve @ 11:45:00 AM