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Posted : 2012-06-08 16:32
Updated : 2012-06-08 16:32

Korean viewers miss out on WC qualifiers


Korean team manager
Choi Kang-hee
By Jung Min-ho

Since the national team’s magnificent achievements in 2002, the World Cup has become about more than just football to Korean fans.

This time, however, they missed the game against Qatar and may miss more of the final round of qualifying matches for the 2014 World Cup on television as local broadcasting companies and World Sport Group (WSG) have failed to reach an agreement.

But the cable channel JTBC aired the game. The sports bureau directors of the nation’s three major broadcasting companies, KBS, MBC, and SBS, held a press conference Thursday and expressed concerns over the fact they are unlikely to air the upcoming qualifier against Lebanon.

“We have been negotiating with WSG in four meetings but haven’t reached a consensus over licensing fees,” said KBS Sports Bureau director Park Young-moon, who has been speaking jointly for the three networks.

Starting in July last year, both parties discussed the broadcasting rights for 20 of the national teams’ major matches for the next four years, including the World Cup qualifiers, 2016 Olympic qualifiers, and 2015 AFC Asian Cup.

A big discrepancy in price has not narrowed and a deal has failed to be reached. While the companies initially offered $14.85 million, WSG requested $52 million. According to Yonhap News Agency, after negotiations, the companies tabled $17 million, whereas WSG asked for $35 million as of Thursday.

“Initially, the price they offered was too high and we couldn’t accept it,” said Park.

“Even the $17 million proposal is not profitable. The companies would have suffered a loss but we offered it anyway for the sake of the fans,”he added.

Faced with the pressure to live up to fans’ high expectations for the games, the companies are anticipated to keep trying to reach an agreement.

WSG is a marketing partner of the Asian Football Confederation and the ASEAN Football Federation. It manages hundreds of sports events annually.

Following the qualifying game with Qatar, Korea will play Lebanon at Goyang Stadium, Tuesday. If a deal is not struck quickly, fans will not be able to watch the match on television again. Korea is aiming for an eighth straight World Cup appearance.

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