Associated Press President and Chief Executive Tom Curley said Thursday the agency has signed an exclusive deal to provide high definition news video from North Korea to broadcasters worldwide.
In a speech in Tokyo, Curley unveiled the three-year agreement with North Korean state broadcaster KRT and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.
"Today's announcement means that AP will be the only news agency to transmit broadcast quality HD video of key events in North Korea," he said at the Japan National Press Club.
Associated Press Television News will also have exclusive rights to deliver HD video feeds for individual broadcasters wishing to transmit their own reports from North Korea.
The infrastructure will be established ahead of 2012, when the so-called Hermit Kingdom celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late leader Kim Il Sung.
The deal extends AP's recent push into North Korea to a level unmatched by any other Western news organization.
AP announced in June that it had also signed a series of agreements with the Korea Central News Agency, including one for the opening of a comprehensive news bureau in Pyongyang.
Expected to launch early next year, the office would be the first permanent text and photo bureau operated by a Western news organization in the North Korean capital. It would build upon the AP's existing video news bureau, which opened in Pyongyang in 2006.
In addition, the agencies signed a contract designating the AP as the exclusive international distributor of contemporary and historical video from KCNA's archive. The agencies also plan a joint photo exhibition in New York next year. They already had an agreement between them to distribute KCNA photo archives to the global market, signed earlier this year.
"This is a historic and watershed development," Curley said. "For AP, it extends further and deeper our global reach and shows the trust that is at the core of AP reporting. For the world, it means opening the door to a better understanding between the DPRK and the rest of the world."
The latest deal also highlights AP's broader digital transformation efforts in a rapidly evolving media landscape.
AP, which sees video as a critical part of its future, is investing at least $30 million into its video business. Under an 18-month plan, the agency is upgrading all infrastructure to eventually provide HD video that "will fit easily into digital platforms of any media customer anywhere."
Curley told the group of Japanese journalists that while the U.S. is "ground zero" for the digital media shift, "the movement of information consumption to online platforms and devices is here to stay, and it will inevitably upend traditional forms of media everywhere in the world."
Founded in 1846, the AP maintains bureaus in some 100 countries around the world and is the oldest and largest of the world's major news agencies.