NBC Mulls TNT Football Alliance


Los Angeles -- At the NBC TV-station affiliates'
meeting last week, NBC Sports president Richard Ebersol said there was a "50-50,
maybe 51 [percent]" chance of the network starting a new football league with Time
Warner Inc.

Ebersol said there would probably be a decision in the next
three weeks about whether NBC and Time Warner will go ahead with the league, games from
which would air on NBC and Turner Network Television. Those games would fill the
programming gap left when TNT passed on the pricey National Football League, which it
formerly carried.

During a press-conference call, NBC West Coast president
Don Ohlmeyer added that NBC is having "ongoing discussions about the viability and
practicality" of starting the new league.

Also at the affiliates' meeting, NBC Television
president Neil Braun presented his plan to phase out, over a 10-year period, the $200
million annual compensation that NBC pays stations to carry its programming. The idea is
for that money to instead be funneled into an investment fund, with stations also
potentially getting stakes in MSNBC.

Braun's proposal also reportedly calls for NBC
affiliates to exclusively offer their news feeds to NBC News Channel, and to end their
agreements to be affiliates of and to provide footage to Cable News Network.

Outgoing affiliate-board chairman Ken Elkins said the
details of the CNN issue and the potential MSNBC stakes hadn't been discussed yet.

"But those could be issues of some significance,"
Elkins added.