World Wrestling Federation Entertainment
has moved to cancel the remaining year of its contract with its cable partner,
The entertainment company could end up negotiating a new deal with USA Networks or striking deals with new TV partners for both its wildly successful World Wrestling Federation programming and its new football league.
According to documents filed this week with the
Securities and Exchange Commission
, the entertainment company notified USA Networks that it is exercising a clause in its contract to cancel four hours of weekly programming, including the extremely popular
Monday Night Raw
, prior to the expiration of the contract in September 2001. A separate contract for the remaining one hour of programming the WWF currently airs via USA Networks expires in September.
The WWF may yet end up back with USA Networks, which retains a right of first refusal for the programming blocks.
"We won't negotiate until all bids are in, since we have the last word in deciding whether the WWF stays," said a USA Networks spokesman.
"We're still negotiating with USA as well as other TV networks," WWF spokesman Jayson Bernstein said. The company, which formally notified USA that it was exercising the cancellation clause last week, hopes to announce a new deal for its TV distribution within the next month or so.
The WWF is also seeking broadcast partners for its new spring football league, the
, which is starting up next spring.
"We're not necessarily bundling the two together," Bernstein said, but that possibility does exist.
Potential players for the distribution of both include the
, a cable channel owned by
, as well as the broadcast outlet
United Paramount Network
, which has had great ratings success with
UPN is jointly owned by
. The pending merger between CBS and
, which may be willing to outspend USA Networks for the distribution rights, could hasten a deal between the new company and the WWF.
WWFE shares gained 9/16, or 4.3%, to close at 13 3/4 Friday, while USA Networks rose 1 5/16, or 6%, to 23 3/16.