New York Post – January 12, 2001
By Allyson Lieberman
AOL Time Warner’s clean-up of Turner Broadcasting continued yesterday with the sale of its ailing World Championship Wrestling operation.
Once recognized as the most popular TV wrestling brand, the WCW has been pinned by the leading World Wrestling Federation, with stars such as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Often dubbed “Wheelchair Wrestling” by its fans because of its aging wrestling stars, the operation is said to have lost more than $80 million last year.
Insiders say parent company Time Warner, which is being acquired by America Online, could not justify the huge losses and ordered the sale of the wrestling giant.
The WCW was sold for an estimated $80 million to $100 million to Fusient Media, whose chiefs founded the Classic Sports Network, now known as ESPN Classic.
Turner Broadcasting will retain a minority interest in the WCW business and long-term programming rights.
Bradley Siegel, president of general entertainment networks at TBS, said Turner cable stations will continue airing WCW matches but will leave programming and marketing to the New York-based Fusient Media Ventures.
Eric Bischoff, who was recently brought back to revive the faltering WCW, will remain president.
“WCW was the thorn in the side of Turner Cable networks,” said Ed Hatch, an analyst at SG Cowen Securities. “Management is in the process of clearing the decks of deadwood,” Hatch said of the sale.