Olympics notes: Will North Koreans get to watch the PyeongChang Winter Olympics?

With the PyeongChang Winter Olympics coming up, one of the issues for North-South discussion is television access for Korean Central Television. That because Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS), one of South Korea’s major TV networks, holds Olympics broadcasting rights for North Korea even though it doesn’t broadcast there.

The rights for the 2018, 2020, 2022 and 2024 Olympic events were awarded to SBS in July 2011 in a deal that covered free-to-air television, pay TV, internet and mobile coverage in North and South Korea. The deal continued on from a previous one that covered Olympic events between 2010 and 2016.

In South Korea, SBS has sub-licensed PyeongChang Olympics coverage to other broadcasters, including KBS and MBC, but nothing has been announced so far for North Korea.

But, if history is a guide, Korean Central Television will get access to Olympics coverage.

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For previous Olympic Games and other major sporting events, KCTV has requested help from the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU). The ABU is a group that brings together major broadcasters in Asia and promotes collaboration and cooperation and has been successful in the past in working out a licensing deal that enables KCTV to broadcast the Olympics.

The PyeongChang Winter Olympics begin on February 9, the day after North Korea marks the anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army. Those celebrations are expected to include a parade that is likely to be broadcast live on KCTV.

As for the Olympics, North Korea has typically broadcast coverage on delay. The opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics was broadcast as a 3-minute highlight in news coverage on Sunday, two days after it occurred. Ice skating, snow boarding, ski jumping and speed skating made up coverage over the first few nights.

An affiliate of 38 North
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