National Basketball Association playoff broadcasts in China will resume as early as next week after the government blocked them for being too "entertaining" for a nation mourning the Sichuan earthquake.

CCTV, China's state broadcaster, suspended transmissions after the May 22 game between the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs. A report on NBA China's Web site cited Jiang Heping, director of CCTV's sports channel, as saying the NBA's content must be appropriate in the current atmosphere.

CCTV said on its sports channel that broadcasts would resume in June without giving further details.

"The NBA supports China's earthquake relief and rebuilding efforts," Tim Chen, chief executive officer of NBA China, said in an e-mail today. "We are working closely with CCTV to ensure that NBA games and content are appropriate for China and to begin game broadcasting as soon as possible."

All sports programming was dropped for three days beginning May 19, a week after the earthquake that killed at least 60,000 people. Other sports including soccer and snooker have been broadcast since the decision to take the NBA off air.

The NBA has prospered in China, buoyed by the success of Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, and is broadcast in 20 of the most populous nation's 22 provinces. Basketball has 300 million players in China and is the most popular sport among youths.

Conference Finals

The Western Conference finals between the Lakers and Spurs and the Eastern Conference matchup between the Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons may be finished before June, with the first six games of the best-of-seven contests scheduled in May. The Celtics lead the Pistons three games to two, and the Lakers lead the Spurs three games to one. The NBA Finals are in June.

Calls to Zhu Hong, a spokesperson at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, and to CCTV's Jiang were unanswered, while CCTV's programming department declined to comment on the reasons for the NBA's suspension. NBA China officials also declined to give details.

Games can still be watched on the NBA's Web site in China.

The death toll from the May 12 earthquake rose to 68,516 people with 19,350 missing, state officials said today.

--Editor: Grant Clark, Michael Sillup

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-0- May/29/2008 12:43 GMT