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Canada wants in on XFL TV


By PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

  Canadian television networks aren't wasting any time trying to tag up with NBC to televise XFL games.

 Carl DeMarco, president of WWF Canada, said yesterday he received several calls from Canadian network executives seeking to simulcast XFL games, which NBC will begin broadcasting next year.

 NBC, which stopped broadcasting the NFL two years ago after a partnership of more than 30 years, announced yesterday it had bought a 50% share of the XFL for $30 million US. It plans to broadcast the new football league's games both regionally and nationally in prime time on Saturday nights starting Feb. 3, concluding with the championship game, April 21.

 "There's going to be a dogfight for Canadian rights for XFL," DeMarco said. "It's going to be one of the biggest fights for licensing rights in Canada."

 'IDIOTS MISSED BOAT'

 DeMarco ridiculed the Canadian Football League for turning down the opportunity to hook up with the World Wrestling Federation last year. WWF owner Vince McMahon attempted to take over the CFL and mentioned the possibility of bringing NBC into the picture because of his relationship with NBC's chairman of sports, Dick Ebersol. They have known one another for 15 years and were business partners for five years.

 "This could have been all part of the CFL," DeMarco said. "Those idiots missed the boat. The CFL dropped the ball."

 The CFL board of governors rejected McMahon's overtures, worried that the Canadian game would lose its culture and rules. However, the XFL plans to adopt some CFL's rules, such as the automatic punt return.

 CFL president Jeff Giles, who met with McMahon last year, said he was expecting the WWF to secure only a cable contract.

 "For this to be on national television is quite a coup," Giles said. "To have (NBC) buy 50% is quite a commitment, too."

 Ebersol predicted NBC's investment would be in the black in three years.

 "It's an economic modal that works well for both partners," he said.