Sam’s Army May Be in Germany, but US Army is Shut Out in Iraq

SamsSo apparently US soldiers in Iraq won’t be able to watch the World Cup due to a licensing dispute. Turns out that the rights holders (Swiss-based Infront Sports and Media) want to get paid for their content (imagine that!), and the Armed Forces Network (the US military’s TV network) doesn’t have budget to pay for sports rights. Apparently, US domestic sports leagues comp the AFN licenses.

In another article, one US soldier complains: “‘I feel the people who own the licensing are not supporting our country and our troops,’ said Spc. Steven Selph of Charleston, S.C. ‘It’s the World Cup; we should all be able to see it.’ ” Um. I guess it turns out that the Swiss, what with their centuries-old policy of neutrality, don’t want to give subsidies to US military ambitions abroad? Who knew!

Some thoughts here:
1. Is anyone in Iraq able to watch the World Cup? I imagine that there are a couple of TV stations up and running there. Were they unable (or unwilling) to buy World Cup rights? If they do have World Cup rights, why can’t US bases get these feeds?

2. Apparently, Infront Sports and Media offers free licenses for non-commercial group viewing of World Cup games to places in Germany like churches and beer halls. Why wouldn’t that exemption apply here? It’s not like the AFN it a for-profit enterprise.

3. So we know that the US is sending billions of dollars to Iraq each month. They don’t have a few grand for World Cup rights?

OK, back to watching Ger / Pol.

Cup Is Empty for Many Members of Military [New York Times]
Troops in Europe have options for World Cup viewing [Stars and Stripes]

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