The North's Central Television Station aired Saturday's first-round match between England and Paraguay from 1:00 pm Monday, the Korea Broadcasting Commission in Seoul said.

"We began relaying the World Cup broadcast to North Korea via satellite today after testing it on Sunday," a KBC official told the AFP news agency.

He said the South was offering the North complete coverage of the tournament in Germany, but refused to confirm reports that South Korea agreed to pay some $150,000 to FIFA for the broadcast rights in North Korea.

Tapes

During the 2002 World Cup staged in South Korea and Japan, Seoul sent videotapes to North Korea a day or two after the games. For the 2004 Athens Olympics it offered the North a live feed of major  events.

Television broadcasts in North Korea generally consist of programmes praising the achievements of leader Kim Jong-il; political melodramas based on the life of his father, Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea; and and re-runs of set-piece military parades.

South Korea, which jointly hosted the last World Cup with Japan in 2002, plays its opening match in the 2006 tournament on Tuesday against Togo.

North Korea has not qualified for the World Cup since 1966 when it stunned the football world by beating Italy 1-0 to make it to the quarter finals stage.