AP Picks Up Story on SmackDown being Canned

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NEW YORK (AP) — Pro wrestling is getting smacked down by the CW network.

The long-running “Friday Night Smackdown” won’t be airing on the CW this fall, the network and World Wrestling Entertainment said late Thursday. In separate announcements, they stated that “after a successful decade of `Smackdown,'” they had agreed to conclude their partnership after the 2007-08 season.

No reasons were offered.

WWE added that it began talks with other networks after the CW’s exclusive period to negotiate a renewal ended Jan. 31. Although no details were disclosed for a possible new home for the show, candidates might include NBC Universal, whose USA cable channel already carries “WWE Raw,” and MyNetworkTV, where some affiliates aired “Smackdown” when they were UPN stations.

The two-hour “Smackdown” premiered on then-fledgling UPN in fall 1999 as strategic counterprogramming on Thursdays. “Smackdown” gave UPN a foothold on that night of bruising prime-time competition, but even as a ratings contender, it proved to be a sometimes uncomfortable fit with UPN’s image.

When UPN, owned by CBS, merged with Warner Bros.’ WB in 2006, “Smackdown” seemed no less out of place on the resulting CW network.

The CW is a joint venture between Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. unit and CBS Corp.



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