The Chinese Professional Baseball League is reeling from a series of scandals and feuding over TV contracts that have rocked the sport in recent weeks, resulting in the resignation of the league’s commissioner and disrupting the broadcasting of games.
The in-fighting among the league’s four clubs and perceived mismanagement by officials have many CPBL fans up in arms and withdrawing their support for the league in droves because the games have not been broadcast on cable.
Former CPBL commissioner Hwang Jenn-tai (黃鎮台) resigned on July 25 to take responsibility for the row over the TV broadcasting rights for league games and several other problems, and the post has been vacant since then.
Photo: Lin Cheng-kun, Taipei Times
All the league’s troubles came after the new season started off on a high note, when the league signed a lucrative contract with MP & Silva, an international company specializing in the management and distribution of sport media rights. Under the NT$2.142 billion (US$70.48 million) six-year contract, each club stood to receive NT$89.25 million annually in rights revenue.
At the time of the deal’s signing, MP & Silva representative Cho Su-hyeon said: “We are confident that we can expand the baseball market in Taiwan. Our plan is to promote CPBL games in Japan, South Korea and China.”
However, the partnership went sour as the season progressed, amid questions about the soundness of the deal. Some team owners complained of potential pitfalls, while others contended that MP & Silva was not meeting its financial obligations.
The tension surrounding the deal boiled over on April 30, when several pages of the contract were leaked to Chinese-language weekly Next Magazine, further fueling discontent with the deal.
The fatal blow came on July 19, when MP & Silva announced that it had unilaterally terminated the contract, saying that the CPBL had violated certain terms of the deal and that it therefore had a legal basis on which to end the partnership.
The cancelation of the deal left the league facing a financial shortfall and sparked a wild scramble among rival television networks like FTV, Videoland, Fox Sports and cSKY Sports to secure broadcasting rights for rest of the season’s games.
Further complicating matters was a separate deal cSKY Sports had with MP & Silva.
The scrapping of the contract with the league left the TV channel out in the cold and it is now threatening to sue the CPBL, while the league is contemplating filing a lawsuit against MP & Silva.
After weeks of negotiation, the four league clubs agreed for the first time to go their separate ways on TV broadcasting.
The Uni-President Lions announced this week that they will go with Fox Sports for their home game broadcasts, while the Chinatrust Brothers and EDA Rhinos said they will collaborate with Videoland and the Lamigo Monkeys have yet to announce their decision.
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