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Mandalay Sports Entertainment and World Wrestling Federation Entertainment are both talking to Turner Broadcasting System Inc. about possibly buying its beleaguered World Championship Wrestling organization.

WWFE, a more successful pro-wrestling promotion, might be a long shot to buy its rival. But sources said the competitors could team up for several pay-per-view-related events in the near future.

Sources said that Mandalay Sports was close to wrapping up the WCW, with its former president, Eric Bischoff, heading the company. A deal could be reached as early as Oct. 17, after WCW executives return from Australia where they currently producing several WCW cable shows, includingMonday Nitro Live.

The source said the deal was contingent on TBS' continued distribution of WCW programming through its cable services.

A Mandalay Sports representative would only say that "while no deal is imminent, we are always interested in adding properties to our portfolio that will expand our presence and position in the field of sports entertainment."

If a deal were reached, Mandalay would inherit a company that has struggled to effectively compete against the popular World Wresting Federation. Industry sources said the company has lost between $50 million and $70 million this year alone.

A Turner spokeswoman would only say that the company would not comment "on rumors or speculation involving any part of our business."

Sources said WWFE obtained the option to match any WCW purchase price as part of a settlement it reached earlier this year with TBS over copyright-infringement claims. Both had filed claims against the other several years ago.

But WWFE has its hands full with its own shows and the upcoming launch of the XFL football league. More likely is a joint working relationship between the WWFE and the eventual WCW owner, possibly on future PPV events.

That would likely only come about if WWFE obtained a stake in the WCW, sources said. WWFE executives would not comment on what it calls "rumors and speculation."

Industry observers said any joint ventures between the two organizations would generate huge interest from wrestling fans, and would boost interest in the WCW.

The WWF's Monday nightRaw Is Warregularly beats the WCW'sMonday Nitro. EvenRaw's recent shift to TNN: The National Network from USA Network didn't change that equation.

During the week ending Oct. 1, the two-hourRawblock averaged a 5.45 rating, compared toMonday Nitro's 3.2 rating.

The disparity is even greater on the PPV side. The WWF averages around a 1.35 buy-rate on monthly events, while the WCW's buy-rates have been as low as 0.2 percent.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.