NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Fusient Media Ventures agreed Thursday to acquire World Championship Wrestling from Turner Broadcasting System Inc. for an undisclosed amount.|
TBS will retain a minority interest in WCW as well as long-term programming rights. Fusient will take over day-to-day operations of WCW and Brian Bedol, founder of Classic Sports Network, will serve as CEO. Eric Bischoff, the former head of WCW, will return as president.
No other financial terms were disclosed.
Bedol, along with Stephen Greenberg, created the Classic Sports Network which was later sold to ESPN. Bedol and Greenberg later started New York-based Fusient Media Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in media properties.
Sale of the wrestling unit comes as Time Warner Inc. is preparing for its merger with America Online Inc. (AOL: Research, Estimates). The Federal Communications Commission is expected to approve the $103 billion merger soon.
Atlanta-based World Championship Wrestling produces live wrestling shows and competes against World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc. (WWF: Research, Estimates). The WCW franchise includes popular cable television show WCW Monday Nitro Live and WCW Worldwide, which is seen in syndication in 94 percent of the United States.
WCW, once one of the more popular TV wrestling brands, is now losing money. Analysts estimate that last year the wrestling franchise lost about $80 million.
WCW is a unit of Turner Broadcasting System, which is owned by Time Warner Inc. CNNfn.com also is a unit of Time Warner (TWX: Research, Estimates).
Time Warner shares gained $3 to $70, the WWF rose 31 cents to $17.75, and AOL jumped $1.79 to $46.68 in afternoon trading Thursday.
-- from staff and wire reports