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September 22, 2017

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Thanks are in order for CPBL Commissioner Hwang

Late last month, Hwang Jenn-tai (黃鎮台), the commissioner of the local Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL, 中華職棒) made a somewhat unsurprising announcement of his intention to resign from his post.

The resignation, tendered on July 25, was apparently done to take responsibility over the recent CPBL broadcasting dispute that has resulted in a huge loss of fans for the league over the past months.

In an open letter to the fans, Hwang apologized over the dispute that had troubled them and made the games less accessible for them on cable TV. He also expressed thanks for their and CPBL colleagues' support over the past two-and-a-half years during his tenure as head of the league.

He promised to continue to promote Taiwan baseball as a life-long volunteer despite his resignation.

The China Post would like to give the highest credit to Hwang, who is undoubtedly the most highly acclaimed and successful CPBL commissioner for the 25-year-old league despite the broadcasting dispute.

During his tenure as top manager of the most successful professional sport league in Taiwan, Hwang launched a series of measures to revamp the image of the CPBL that has previously been marred by on-and-off game-fixing scandals.

It was during his tenure that Hwang pushed to implement the free-agent system and set up a minimum wage for players to better protect the working rights of Taiwanese players — policies that should have been launched years ago.

It was also because of Hwang that the league launched a full-size minor league system.

These initiatives all helped to provide the CPBL with a sounder system that is expected to bring more competitive games to the league, a good sign for its long-term development as well as that of Taiwanese baseball.

Hwang was also credited for the CPBL's hosting of two major international events that boosted the image of the Taiwanese league worldwide, namely the Asian Baseball Winter League (ABWL) and the Asian Series that features the champions of leagues in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and other parts of the world.

The CPBL's signing of a historic six-year NT$2.04 billion deal with MP & Silva, a London-based international media rights company, this January (a deal made possible thanks to Hwang) was also originally out of good intentions, with the ultimate purpose to bring more revenues to the four debt-ridden CPBL teams and to possibly lift the international profile and visibility of the league.

However, the partnership went sour as the season progressed when many questioned the soundness of the deal, ultimately leading to MP & Silva's unexpected announcement last month to end its contract with the CPBL, claiming that the league had violated the contract.

The broadcasting dispute also cost the league in lost viewership as well as advertising and sponsorships.

The China Post would like to thank Hwang for his great contributions to the CPBL and to Taiwan baseball. We also want to laud him for taking responsibility for the broadcasting dispute.

In the wake of his departure, we sincerely hope that whoever takes up the vacancy will carry on the legacy left by Hwang — that is, to keep launching those policies that will only make the league better in the long run.

Previously, there were rumors that some CPBL team managers are hoping to scrap the costly winter league as well as the chance to host the Asian Series.

However, we believe that holding international events, though costly, are important to lift the league's international image as well as to provide a training ground for young Taiwanese talent.

One way or another, the new CPBL commissioner definitely has very big shoes to fill. Thank you, commissioner, for two and a half years of hard work and dedication.

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