China state TV suspends NBA broadcasts after Morey Hong Kong tweet

Eric Gordon #10 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball during the game against the LA Clippers on October 3, 2019 at the Stan Sheriff Center, Hawaii.Jay Metzger, NBA Photos | National Basketball Association | Getty ImagesChinese state-run television network CCTV said it was suspending the current broadcast arrangements for the NBA’s preseason games in China.It follows a tweet made by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey in which he showed support for the anti-government protests in Hong Kong. The tweet, which was later deleted, drew strong criticism in the world’s second-largest economy.The suspension underscores the difficulty American companies face when they want to do business within China’s massive economy, but can’t run the risk of saying anything that will upset the country’s autocratic government.NBA Commissioner Adam Silver defended Morey.”I think as a values-based organization that I want to make it clear … that Daryl Morey is supported in terms of his ability to exercise his freedom of expression,” Silver said in an interview with Kyodo News in Tokyo Japan.CCTV did not agree with Silver’s remarks.”We are strongly dissatisfied and we oppose Silver’s claim to support Morey’s right of free expression. We believe that any speech that challenges national sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech,” CCTV said in its statement in Chinese, which was translated by CNBC.The state-run TV channel also said it will “immediately investigate all co-operation and exchanges involving the NBA.”China appears to be spreading its backlash beyond just the rockets. CCTV and online broadcast partner Tencent previously said they would not show the games that the Rockets were playing in. Now CCTV has cast its net wider to include all the preseason NBA games being played in China.It’s unclear if this suspension will last into the regular season.A spokesperson for the NBA was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.Morey did follow up his deleted tweets with some more remarks in an attempt to diffuse the situation. But the fallout continued.On Alibaba-owned e-commerce sites in China as well as rival, searches in Chinese for “Houston Rockets” and “Rockets” yielded no results as it appeared products related to the NBA franchise had been de-listed.

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