Chinese CCTV shows NBA game, ending 18-month blackout

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past an NBA logo at an NBA exhibition in Beijing, China October 8, 2019. (REUTERS/Jason Lee)

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BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s state broadcaster CCTV aired a National Basketball Association (NBA) game on Wednesday for the first time in 18 months, raising hopes that relations between the league and China were on the mend after a rift in 2019.

The game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Utah Jazz was broadcast live on China Central Television (CCTV) Sports Channel on Wednesday, according to its broadcast schedule.

The last time the broadcaster aired an NBA game was in October 2020, according to government outlet ThePaper.cn.

The NBA, one of the most popular American cultural exports to China, earns hundreds of millions of dollars each year from its presence in the Chinese market, but the decades-long partnership with CCTV was shaken up in October 2019.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted that month in support of protests in Hong Kong, a Chinese-ruled city that was in the throes of a political crisis due to months of anti-government protests stemming from a proposed bill. controversy over extradition.

Although the tweet was quickly deleted, it drew heavy criticism in China. State media including CCTV slammed Morey for his tweet, which was slammed as an example of Western interference in a bid to stoke anti-China sentiment, while Chinese partners cut or suspended ties with the NBA.

The broadcaster immediately stopped showing NBA games and the blackout continued for more than 28 months, except for the one-time broadcast of the NBA Finals in October 2020.

CCTV has not announced the broadcast of Wednesday’s game and has not yet discussed it. The end of the first NBA game drought in October 2020 has been announced by the broadcaster. A spokesperson said at the time that the NBA had expressed goodwill for some time and had “made active efforts to support the Chinese people in their fight against COVID-19.”

The Chinese branch of the NBA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CCTV holds exclusive television rights in China for the NBA, while tech giant Tencent Holdings holds exclusive internet broadcasting rights in the country.

(Reporting by Eduardo Baptista, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

© Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022

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