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CPBL returns to cable TV to acclaim by fans happy

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwanese baseball fans yesterday expressed welcome after two cable TV stations announced their decision to broadcast the remaining games of the ongoing Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL, 中華職棒) season.

The Videoland Television Network (緯來電視網) announced late on Wednesday that it will broadcast the home games of two CPBL teams, the EDA Rhinos and Brother Elephants.

The decision came one day after the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions announced that their home games would be broadcast by FOX Sports Taiwan, another cable TV channel. The remaining team, Lamigo Monkeys, also said it is still in talks with FOX Sports on the broadcasting issue.

The series of announcements means that local baseball fans are finally able to watch the CPBL games on local cable TV channels that reach nearly 60 percent of Taiwanese households.

The CPBL, in its 25th season this year, signed a historic six-year NT$2.04 billion deal with MP & Silva, a London-based international media rights company, this January.

After acquiring the broadcasting rights, MP & Silva outsourced the filming of CPBL games to Formosa TV (FTV, 民視) and sold the rights to broadcast the programs to Sportcast (博斯), a channel that is only available to subscribers to Chunghwa Telecom Co.'s (中華電信) multimedia-on-demand (MOD) digital TV service.

CPBL fans can also watch the league's games online on CPBLTV and Elta TV, another channel only available on MOD.

But MOD only has a reach of around 1.5 million Taiwanese households.

The decision has drawn criticism from many Taiwanese fans. Netizens said the announcement made it very inconvenient for them to watch CPBL games.

MP & Silva unexpectedly announced this July that it was ending its contract with the CPBL, claiming that the four-team league had violated the contract.

Stressing that the league has done nothing to violate its agreement with MP & Silva, the CPBL said it would ask the media rights contractor to explain the reason for severing the deal, and that they would file a lawsuit against the London-based company.

The issue triggered heated debate among baseball fans, with some arguing that CPBL Commissioner Hwang Jenn-tai (黃鎮台) should be held responsible for the broadcasting rights glitch. Hwang later resigned from the post on July 25.

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