NBA playoffs disappear from TV in China

Championships missing after mourning period

BEIJING -- NBA playoff games have mysteriously disappeared from Chinese television.

Entertainment programs on Chinese television were suspended last week during a three-day period of mourning for victims of the Sichuan earthquake, including NBA playoff games.

When the mourning period ended, the NBA playoffs returned as the state-run national broadcaster CCTV showed the Western Conference final between the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs. However, subsequent games have not been shown.

"We have followed orders and stopped the NBA broadcast," Jiang Heping, director for CCTV's sport channel, said in Wednesday editions of the Shanghai-based Oriental Sports Daily. "Since the May 12 earthquake, we're careful about the way we broadcast the NBA, and the content must match the whole atmosphere."

However, concerns about sports programming following the earthquake did not prevent CCTV's sports channel from showing women's soccer and highlights of track, women's basketball and French Open tennis.

The NBA's office in China offered only a brief statement from NBA China CEO Tim Chen.

"We are working closely with CCTV to ensure that NBA games and content are appropriate for China and to begin broadcasting as soon as possible," Chen said.

Michael Bass, NBA senior vp marketing communication, said Wednesday the NBA has not been given any indication that games were pulled for any political reason.

"Our programming has been pre-empted in consideration of the tenor in China following the Sichuan earthquake," Bass said.

NBA basketball is popular in China, though interest has dropped off without the top two Chinese players -- Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian -- in the playoffs. The injured Yao plays for the Houston Rockets and Yi plays for the Milwaukee Bucks.