WWF slams back with lawsuit
Blasts conservative critic Bozell over ad boycott
By Deborah McAdams -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/12/2000 7:00:00 PM
World Wrestling Federation Entertainment is suing conservative TV critic L. Brent Bozell III, claiming that his campaign against advertisers on WWFE shows has defamed the network and interfered with its ad relationships.
The suit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, claims Bozell and his Parents 'Television Council have "threatened, coerced and intimidated" advertisers into dropping their contracts for ads on WWF Smackdown!, which runs on UPN. The suit also claims that the PTC has falsely accused the WWF of being responsible for "four murders of young children."
The WWF's attorney, Jerry S. McDevitt, partner in Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, said the company will seek damages "in the many millions of dollars. We will be seeking to recover all the monies he has cost the WWF-money he crows about." McDevitt said Bozell and the PTC claim to have persuaded nearly 40 companies to pull their ads. "Twenty-five of those advertisers have never advertised with us," a WWF spokesman said. "But we know that's been a factor in other corporations' pulling out."
Proctor&Gamble, for example, is frequently cited by the PTC as having shut out the WWF on its recommendation but has never been a WWF advertiser, a P & G spokeswoman said.
"He inflates the number but has in fact caused advertisers to not buy WWF," McDevitt said. "He creates an atmosphere where he makes advertisers fear continuing to advertise."
McDevitt said the WWF is not looking for a settlement. "We're gonna take this guy to court."
Bozell, through a PTC spokeswoman, said, "Not having seen a copy of the pleading, we can have no comment. Based on the press release issued by the WWFE, I can say the allegations are completely without merit."
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