ESPN is undecided about whether to grant exclusive broadcasting rights to a local pay-television operator this year. A company official said it had still to make an arrangement for sports programming in Hong Kong. 'As with dating and marriage, it is better to say 'no' to the right guy than to say 'yes' to the wrong guy,' the official said. The company was believed to be discussing three-year exclusive-sports programming rights with i-Cable Communications, the biggest local pay-TV operator, sources said. However, industry executives said ESPN was more open to granting non-exclusive rights to other operators. 'Why would ESPN have to give exclusive rights to an operator who does not offer enough money for that exclusivity?' one source asked. Other pay-TV operators such as TVB Galaxy and Hong Kong Network Television, a unit of Sino-i.com, were understood to have discussed non-exclusive broadcasting rights. Stanley Tang, general manager of TVB Galaxy, said: 'We have been looking at ways to get non-exclusive arrangement with ESPN, only to find that i-Cable wants exclusive rights.' He stressed that TVB, whose flagship programming was entertainment, sought non-exclusive sports rights because there could be other programme exchanges and new projects attractive to both ESPN and TVB. Meanwhile, ESPN parent News Corp is bidding for broadcasting rights to football's English Premier League (EPL). Sources indicated the News Corp consortium would triumph over the five contenders. If that was the case, i-Cable could lose Premier League coverage from next season, unless it came to an agreement with the winning bidder. An i-Cable official said discussions were continuing with ESPN and that any non-exclusive arrangement, if adopted, would not shut out i-Cable's sports broadcasts. 'We are not sure if News Corp will win the EPL bidding,' the official said. He was also unsure of the arrangements that would be involved in Premier League coverage by ESPN.