NBA returns to Chinese television after ban over Hong Kong controversy
Beijing, Oct. 10 (efe-epa).- An NBA game was broadcast on Chinese state-owned broadcaster CCTV for the first time since October last year, when the American men’s professional basketball league was banned after a manager of one of the teams posted a comment in support of the protests in Hong Kong.
On Saturday morning, Chinese spectators could once again enjoy, after almost a year-long absence, an NBA game, in particular Game 5 of the NBA Finals played between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat, which the latter won 111-108.
In a brief statement on Friday night, CCTV announced the resumption of broadcasts, calling it a “normal” decision owing to the popularity of the sport in China.
A CCTV spokesperson said that the NBA had shown its support for the Chinese people in their fight against the COVID-19 pandemic since the beginning of the year.
In early October 2019, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey posted a tweet, which he later deleted, with an image captioned “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong” in reference to the pro-democracy protests that took place in the former British colony in the second half of last year and that also included violent clashes between the police and some radical protesters.
The tweet sparked a campaign of intimidation against Morey followed by announcements by CCTV and Chinese technology giant Tencent, a major partner of ESPN and the NBA in China with a streaming deal worth $1.5 billion over the next five years, that they would not broadcast the Rockets’ games.
Chinese e-commerce giants JD and TaoBao also removed Houston Rockets products from their virtual stores.
In February, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the rift with China had resulted in losses of $400 million although he hoped for “a return to normalcy fairly soon.”
In May this year, NBA appointed Michael Ma as the chief executive of its Chinese subsidiary.
Ma was expected to repair relations with CCTV owing to his status as the son of Ma Gouli, the founder of CCTV’s sports channel and who helped bring live NBA games to the network in the 1990s. EFE-EPA