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   Fri, February 8, 2008



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WWE, CW set to part ways
Smackdown to leave network at season's end
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


One of wrestling’s longest-standing media relationships will soon come to a close, as World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. and the CW Network will part ways this September.

On Friday morning, WWE released a statement on its corporate web site, stating that Smackdown would end its near 10-year run on The CW Network(and its predecessor, UPN) at the end of the broadcast season. “We are grateful to Les Moonves, Dawn Ostroff, and their entire organization for bringing WWE SmackDown! to millions of viewers for so many years,” WWE stated in a release.

Paul Maguire of CW's programming department confirmed to SLAM! Wrestling on Friday morning that the final episode of Friday Night Smackdown! would air on September 12, 2008.

In a statement released to SLAM! Wrestling through Maguire, the CW stated that, “We are grateful to Linda and Vince McMahon and their entire organization for providing great entertainment to our viewers for so many years.”

In an interview conducted Friday morning, WWE spokesman Gary Davis stated that the reason for the move was due to the two sides being unable to come to a new contract agreement before the expiration of CW’s exclusive negotiation period, which ended on January 31, 2008. Davis went on to comment that WWE has, “begun conversations with other networks.”

Davis further stated that WWE’s broadcasting agreements for Smackdown! would have no effect on its status with The Score in Canada.

The relationship between the CW, owned by Viacom (whose other media include CBS and MTV) and WWE began in 1999, with a single-episode special broadcast on April 29, 1999. Just a few months after this initial airing, Smackdown! was picked up by UPN for a full run, which began on August 26, 1999.

Since the run on UPN began, Smackdown! has undergone a number of changes, including the development of its own talent roster following the brand extension in 2002, a move from Thursday night to Friday night broadcasts in the fall of 2005 and the merger of UPN with the WB in 2006. During the near decade-long relationship, UPN/CW had aired the occasional special program as well.

Stay tuned to SLAM! Wrestling for more on this developing story.

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