The broadcast and streaming partners for NBA’s pre-season games in China will not air the games over the American Basketball League’s support to pro-freedom protests in Hong Kong.
The row that has erupted with Houston Rockets’ general manager’s tweet in support of the anti-China establishment protests in Hong Kong has taken a turn that can potentially hit the NBA’s interest hard in one of its biggest targeted markets.
China’s State Broadcaster CCTV has said that it will not show the two NBA pre-season exhibition games from Shanghai and Shenzhen. NBA’s streaming partner in China Tencent would also “temporarily suspend” is pre-season games’ understanding and not show the Los Angeles Lakers-Brooklyn Nets pre-season games in China on October 10 and 12.
CCTV, while announcing its decision to not to broadcast the NCA pre-season games, has said: “We believe that any comments that challenge national sovereignty and social stability are not within the scope of freedom of speech”.
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The row that erupted with Houston Rockets executive Daryl Morey tweeted message to support for anti-China protestors in Hong Kong, has further escalated when NBA in a statement on Monday had defended Morey’s rights to free speech.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Monday had stated that his support for “Daryl Morey is supported in terms of his ability to exercise his freedom of expression.
“I accept that it is also Chinese Government’s and Chinese businesses’ right to react to those words and, at least from my long-time experience in the NBA, it will take some time to heal some of these issues.”
In response to criticism of the NBA‘s initial response to the incident, Silver added in a statement: “I recognize our initial statement left people angered, confused or unclear on who we are or what the NBA stands for.
“Over the last three decades, the NBA has developed a great affinity for the people of China. We have seen how basketball can be an important form of people-to-people exchange that deepens ties between the United States and China.
“It is inevitable that people around the world – including from America and China – will have different viewpoints over different issues. It is not the role of the NBA to adjudicate those differences.
“However, the NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues. We simply could not operate that way.”
The statement has definitely not gone down well with the authorities in China. Even though as of now the two games are going to be played as per plans, the latest controversy has certainly created a few roadblocks for NBA’s march in China.
The issue may run deeper further considering the heightened tensions between the Heads of the State of the two mighty nations.