China yanks ESPN, Star Sports permits

No reason given for refusal

HONG KONG — ESPN and Star Sports have gone off the air in China after the authorities refused to renew their permits last week.

They were the only channels among a group of foreign nets not to be reupped by China’s State Administration for Radio, Film and Television. No reason was given for the refusal.

Channels are operated out of Singapore by ESPN Star Sports, a joint venture between News Corp. and Disney, and were already restricted to broadcasting to hotels with three-star or higher ratings and to compounds for foreign nationals.

“ESPN Star Sports is still in the renewal process of its ‘landing rights’ and is actively working to conclude the arrangements,” an ESS spokesman said in a written statement. News Corp.’s Star TV unit declined to comment.

The most plausible explanation for the refusal involves soccer rights.

A group of local channels broadcasts English Premier League soccer matches in China, and ESS was recently outbid by Guangdong Television for rights to matches over next three seasons starting this fall.

Industry sources speculate Sarft may be further punishing News Corp., which in 2005 was deemed to have exceeded its mandate with Qinghai satellite TV. However, other Star channels have had their permits renewed.

Another theory is that the refusal was an administrative blunder.

A spopkesperson for the net said, “ESPN Star Sports is still in the renewal process of its landing rights and is actively working to conclude the arrangements.”

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Scene News from Variety

Loading