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Baseball broadcasting a go despite media dispute

TAIPEI--Taiwan's professional baseball league said Sunday that television broadcasting of its games will continue as scheduled that day, despite the league's new media partner unilaterally terminating a cooperation agreement.

The Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) games will be broadcast on the Sportcast, Elta TV and CPBL TV channels, the league announced. However, it went on, it is unclear whether the broadcasting on Sportcast, which runs the program on its multimedia on demand (MOD) services, will continue in the future.

MP and Silva, a London-based international media rights company that owns, manages and distributes television media rights, unexpectedly announced a day earlier that it will end its contract with the CPBL as the league's sole consultant in terms of sales of media copyrights and the production and broadcasting of CPBL baseball games.

The termination went into effect that same day, MP and Silva said, without explaining the reason behind the decision, although it described the CPBL as having violated the contract.

In response, the CPBL released a statement later that day in which it guaranteed that broadcasting on the MOD and CPBL TV platforms will not stop.

Saying it has asked the media rights contractor to explain in detail the reason for severing the deal, the league underlined that “the CPBL did not do anything that violates its agreement with MP and Silva.”

The media rights company signed an agreement with the CPBL in January that it will buy baseball game broadcasting rights from the CPBL over the next six years for NT$2.04 billion (US$67.9 million), the largest-ever CPBL broadcasting rights sale.

After acquiring the broadcasting rights, MP and Silva outsourced the filming of CPBL games to Formosa TV (FTV) and sold the rights to broadcast the programs to Sportcast.

No further information from MP and Silva was forthcoming as of press time. Meanwhile, FTV said that its role as a program producer in the contract is simple. Although there's a change to the broadcasting rights, “FTV is delighted to work with the CPBL if the latter is willing to do so,” it said.

Sportcast said MP and Silva has told the company to dissolve their deal. They will handle the consequent matters by following legal procedure, the cable TV channel said, adding that it is willing to negotiate with the CPBL about the possibility of cooperation.

The issue triggered heated online debate among baseball fans, with some arguing that CPBL Commissioner Hwang Jenn-tai should be held responsible for the broadcasting rights glitch.

The cooperation with MP and Silva had been considered an opportunity for the CPBL to get free from its long-term funding problems and go abroad, given that the international company manages sports TV rights for a range of international sporting events and distributes around 10,000 hours of programming to several hundred broadcasters in different countries, including Europe's top leagues in football, FIFA World Cup qualifiers and Grand Slam tennis tournaments.

The CPBL consists of four baseball teams — the Chinatrust Brother Elephants, the Lamigo Monkeys, the Uni-President Lions and the EDA Rhinos. The 2014 season began in March and will run through September.

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