WWE takes aim on launching TV network

NEW YORK Wed Dec 1, 2010 10:27am EST

1 of 2. WWE wrestlers ''Big Show'' (L) and ''Edge'' mock each other during a press conference for the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania in New York March 31, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

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WWE eyes TV Network Launch

Wed, Dec 1 2010

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - World Wrestling Entertainment Inc plans to launch a cable TV network featuring its hulking wrestlers and scripted storylines in mid-2012 or early 2013, later than it had previously hoped, a top executive said on Tuesday.

WWE Chairman and Chief Executive Vince McMahon said in February that he hoped to have a network up and running in 18 months, implying August 2011.

However, Chief Operating Officer Donna Goldsmith said on Tuesday that it would likely be a year or two beyond that date.

"It's taken us longer to galvanize the troops and figure out where we're going," she said at the Reuters Global Media Summit. "My guess is more like the middle of 2012 or even the beginning of 2013 before we're ready to go forward."

Goldsmith said she had not yet spoken to potential advertisers, saying she wanted first to work out details related to programing.

She also reiterated that WWE is leaning toward a network model similar to that instituted by Major League Baseball, where several pay-TV operators own a stake in the venture. That decision has not yet been finalized, she added.

Beyond the launch of the network, Goldsmith said priorities also included international expansion, including building WWE's presence in spots like Brazil, India and Russia.

Goldsmith also made clear that Linda McMahon, who stepped down as Chief Executive of WWE to run for U.S. Senate, has decided against returning to the entertainment company.

Goldsmith said McMahon had informed her that "she is not coming back to the organization" after her foray into politics.

McMahon's husband Vince replaced her when she stepped down in 2009, adding the CEO duties to his position as chairman of the board. Goldsmith said on Tuesday that he would continue in those roles.

Linda McMahon, a Republican, lost her bid for U.S. Senate to Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. In the race to replace retiring Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd, McMahon spent millions of dollars of the fortune she made while heading WWE.

(Editing by Derek Caney)

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