China broadcaster denies Premier League deal

BEIJING - Chinese digital television company Win TV described reports that it had retained the rights to broadcast the English Premier League (EPL) for another three years for $50 million as "inaccurate" on Wednesday.

A day earlier, Britain's Independent newspaper reported that Win TV, a small subscriber-only service based in Shanghai, had successfully won the China rights for 2010-2013 in an article that was quickly picked up by local media.

"I have nothing to inform you or to announce or to explain," Win TV vice president Yu Liangxiao told Reuters by telephone from Shanghai.

"What I can say is the online allegations are inaccurate. We are still in communication."

Win TV's original 2007 deal was controversial because it removed free-to-air coverage of the league from a market where several top English clubs, including Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, were keen to expand their presence.

With the support of the Premier League, Win TV agreed to allow one live game and a highlights package to be broadcast free-to-air every week by Guangdong TV this season.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said on a visit to Beijing last August that a free-to-air element was likely to be a pre-requisite of a successful bid for the 2010-13 Chinese rights.

The state-owned channel CCTV 5 is by far the biggest player in the Chinese market, claiming an 80 percent market share in sports broadcasting.

It has, however, traditionally preferred foreign and domestic leagues to pay out for access to their viewers rather than bid for broadcasting rights.

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