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NFL League weighs start of 'major' TV network



Published: Sat, February 5, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Vehicle could become home for possible Thursday, Saturday games.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Commissioner Paul Tagliabue sent a veiled warning to ABC/ESPN on Friday that the league might get involved in creating a new sports TV network.

While the NFL already has extended agreements with Fox and CBS for its Sunday afternoon TV rights, negotiations on the prime-time packages with ABC and ESPN have stalled.

"We're giving very serious consideration to being part of the launch of another major sports network on cable and satellite television," Tagliabue said during his annual state of the NFL address at the Super Bowl.

A league source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Fox is interested in the prime-time games for the new sports network, which would compete with ESPN. The league wants to add Thursday night and Saturday night games, although not for the entire season.

"We're also talking to other television networks and companies about the packages we have to sell," Tagliabue said, "including the Thursday night/Saturday package we're creating. And there's strong interest in other companies, some of whom already have contracts with us and some who don't."

Return to L.A.

The commissioner also:

UVowed to have a franchise in Los Angeles by the end of the decade.

"What matters is two teams left L.A. a decade ago. We want to get back there, whether it's '08 or '09, it's going to be an unacceptably long period of time out of L.A."

He didn't say if an expansion team or an established franchise would wind up in Southern California.

UExpressed some concern about the gap between the NFL Players' Association and the league in negotiations on lengthening the collective bargaining agreement. Even though the agreement runs through 2008, both sides would like to extend labor peace much sooner.

UTouched on minority hiring, saying the league would concentrate on increasing its pool of qualified candidates for front-office posts. For now, teams won't be required to interview minorities for those jobs as they are for head coaching positions.




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