June 16, 2010 12:22
Terrestrial network SBS, not content with its controversial acquisition of the sole broadcasting rights for the World Cup, is trying to charge street billboard screen operators around Gwanghwamun and City Hall over W10 million per match to show the games (US$1=W1,232).
"We use our billboards to screen World Cup matches so that people can cheer for our national football team together, but we can't do that if we have to pay over W10 million to SBS," an industry source said.
There are about 10 billboard screens near City Hall and the Gwanghwamun area. Their operators can make more money by showing corporate advertising and news clips when a crowd of people gather for an event like the World Cup, but they give up their profits for public interest. One operator said, "During the 2002 World Cup, the cheerleaders from the Red Devils asked us to show World Cup matches on our billboard screens, so we agreed. That was what we were going to do this time as well, but we called it off because SBS demanded money."
This is why only three out of the 10 billboard screens showed the Korea vs. Greece match on Saturday. The situation remains the same for the second match against Argentina on Thursday.
When it faced mounting criticisms for demanding money from hotels and restaurants for screening World Cup matches, SBS stepped back by saying it would not charge any fee as long as there is no profit-making motive. But it insists on charging outdoor billboard screens as they are put up for profit. On top of that, it says screen operators, even if they pay the fees, should not air their own advertising at halftime but show SBS' own commercial break instead.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is nonplussed. "We are at a loss because we had asked cooperation from outdoor screen operators for broadcasting the World Cup matches so that many citizens can enjoy the games on the streets," a Ministry official said.
It seems that SBS is determined to take advantage of its exclusive broadcasting rights to make a fortune. This has led to rumors that it has its eyes and ears close to the ground to ferret out anyone who shows World Cup matches without paying up.
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