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ERA pulls out of broadcast deal in continuing fiasco

ERA pulls out of broadcast deal in continuing fiasco

One of the big players in Taiwan's sports cable market, ERA TV, dropped a bombshell yesterday by announcing it was pulling out of the recent professional baseball broadcast deal that was supposed to clear the way for a smooth 2005 season.
The announcement shook up the local Chinese Professional Baseball League, forcing it to rework the schedule to broadcast the league's 300 games among the remaining broadcasters who were part of last week's agreement - Videoland Sports, ESPN, and FTV.
"We believe that... when there are too many TV networks involved in broadcasting baseball, it causes too much confusion for the audience. ERA TV would not want to ruin the harmonious spirit shown among all parties in the new CPBL broadcast arrangement. Therefore in reluctance, we had to withdraw from this deal," the network stated in a press release yesterday.
ERA TV officials indicated that after several rounds of internal meetings, they concluded the new agreement was a money-losing proposition and was reached too late to attract commercial sponsors at the right price.
Many of the network's advertisers were reportedly asking to renegotiate their advertising commitments in view of ERA's smaller share and less advantageous airtimes in the new TV deal.
"The new agreement has created whole sets of problems for us," said ERA TV deputy general manager Chien Ting-yuan on Monday. "We'd have to shuffle our weekly television programming scheduling, and renegotiate existing advertising deals, now that ESPN and FTV have the rights to 50 of the 300 games."
Complicating ERA's programming dilemma is that it is not a 24-hour sports network, as are Videoland and ESPN.
The league had thought it had settled baseball's TV war last Thursday after a six-hour marathon negotiating session, but in the following days, executives at ERA TV and Videoland Sports spoke privately of their resentment of the league ceding some broadcast rights to the newcomers.
Deciding to play hardball in this very public bitter feud, ERA TV hopes to expose the shortcomings of the new CPBL deal. By pulling out, it has left behind a void for others to fill, and the league might be faced with games this year with no live coverage.
ERA TV is betting that ESPN and FTV do not have a sufficient number of local crews, SNG trucks, and other broadcasting hardware to carry live baseball games, and therefore will likely have difficulties, at least in their inaugural season.
By abandoning the 2005 and 2006 seasons, ERA wants to focus on returning with an improved bid in two years' time, when the league will put broadcast rights up to an open tender.
In another development yesterday, CPBL championship finalist team from last year, the President Lions, welcomed the Kia Tigers club of South Korea in Taipei City for a three-game series this weekend.
Both teams are using the opportunity to test newcomers and veteran players' readiness after spring training sessions, as the Lions will host the visiting Kia Tigers from the KBO (Korean Baseball Organziation) for three evening exhibition games: at Taipei County's Shingchuang Stadium on Friday, at Cheng Ching Lake Ballpark in Kaohsiung on Saturday, and at Tainan City Stadium on Sunday.
The Kia Tigers placed 4th in the 8-team KBO pro league in 2004 with a win-lost-draw record of 67-61-5, in finishing six games behind the first place and the eventual Korean baseball champion winner the Hyundai Unicorns (73-53-5 in the regular season).


Updated : 2021-10-19 11:27 GMT+08:00