Chinese state broadcaster ‘resolute’ on NBA blackout

Agence France-Presse
CCTV had kept NBA matches off its schedule since October following Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's support for pro-democracy demonstrations

FALLOUT. The backlash in China against Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's pro-democracy comments cast a cloud over the NBA's lucrative broadcasting, merchandising, and sponsorship interests in the country, where it has a huge fanbase. File photo by Greg Baker/AFP

SHANGHAI, China – Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said there was no prospect of easing its blackout on NBA matches following a tweet last year by the Houston Rockets’ general manager supporting Hong Kong protests.

The NBA is on hold along with most other sports because of the coronavirus pandemic, but even before that, CCTV had kept matches off its schedule since October following Daryl Morey’s support for the pro-democracy demonstrations.

“Regarding rumors [about broadcasting games], we should reiterate we have not had any contact or dialogue with the NBA as of today,” CCTV News wrote on the Twitter-like Weibo on Monday, May 11, along with footage of an anchorman making the same statement on air.

“On issues concerning sovereignty, our attitude is severe, resolute, consistent, and there is no room for maneuver. The NBA should understand this position.”

The backlash in China against Morey’s comments cast a cloud over the NBA’s lucrative broadcasting, merchandising, and sponsorship interests in the country, where it has a huge fanbase.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in February that the league expected to lose “several hundred million dollars” in the fallout over Morey’s tweet.

Silver, who defended the “freedom of expression of the NBA community” as the row escalated, said he expected CCTV to resume broadcasts of NBA games, but did not give a timeframe.

Chinese internet giant Tencent has, however, shown games even as the row rumbled on. – Rappler.com