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Turner Wants New Football League

May 6, 1998

ATLANTA (AP) _ Ted Turner isn’t yet ruling out a new made-for-TV pro football league.

``Yes, of course they are,″ Turner said Wednesday when asked by Larry King if talks were still alive between Turner Broadcasting and NBC to form an alternative to the NFL.

The NFL’s new television deal will have Fox, CBS, ABC and ESPN paying at least $17.6 billion over the next eight years, with NBC and Turner shut out of pro football _ for the moment Turner reminded King in an interview taped before cable executives at the end of the National Cable Television Association’s annual convention.

``Are you forming a league?″ King asked the founder of TBS and CNN and current vice chairman of Time Warner, whose entertainment empire includes baseball’s Atlanta Braves, the NBA’s Hawks and the nascent NHL franchise, the Thrashers.

``Well, we can’t say ... right now,″ Turner said. ``But you know, stay tuned ... it will be announced on CNN if it happens.″

When Turner and NBC first disclosed the talks three months ago, there was immediate skepticism based on the failures of past leagues such as the United States Football League and questions about whether a new league could field teams of enough quality to attract fans.

Turner said a new league would not get into a bidding war with the NFL for star players.

``We’d be a more prudent league ... lower budgets to start with,″ he said. ``There’s lots of good football players out there ... some of them are a little small.″

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