Premier League disappears from CCTV amid UK-China tension
CCTV, the Chinese state broadcaster, has pulled coverage of English soccer’s Premier League in what appears to be a consequence of an intensifying diplomatic dispute.
The network declined to show yesterday’s high-profile match between Liverpool and Chelsea.
Nor will CCTV show any games from the final round of matches on Sunday, according to Bloomberg, which cited a person familiar with the decision.
However, the ban has not been extended to streaming platforms with video streaming site PPTV having offered up last night’s game, after which champions Liverpool were presented with the Premier League trophy.
The CCTV action comes amid growing tension between London and Beijing, with the UK government having imposed a ban on domestic mobile providers buying 5G equipment from Chinese technology firm Huawei after 2020, and ordering a phase-out of the kit by 2027, and opposing a new security law that has been imposed in the former British colony of Hong Kong.
It is not the first time this season that Premier League matches have been blacked out in China for political reasons, with December’s game between Arsenal and Manchester City being pulled from CCTV and PPTV following comments made by the London club’s midfielder Mesut Özil over the country’s treatment of its Muslim Uighur minority.
The league will be monitoring the situation given that CCTV and PPTV hold rights in China in a three-season deal worth $700 million, and the experience of the NBA, which has not been shown by the state broadcaster this season.
The top basketball league was dropped because of a tweet sent out by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey last October supporting demonstrations in Hong Kong, and the NBA's reaction to it.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver admitted in February that the fallout would end up costing the league “hundreds of millions of dollars” in lost revenue.
The NBA is due to resume, after the coronavirus-enforced break, on 30 July but games are not expected to return to CCTV at this stage.