World Poker Tour in Dispute with the Travel Channel

The parent company of the “World Poker Tour” has sued its outlet, the Travel Channel, for allegedly interfering with plans to develop a new poker series on ESPN.

 WPT Enterprises Inc. sued the Travel Channel and its owner, Discovery Communications Inc., for alleged breach of contract and intentional interference. The case which was filed on Monday in the Los Angeles Superior Court, seeks unspecified damages and various court orders, including a declaration that WPT upheld its side of the contract, while the defendants breached their obligations.

Travel Channel spokesman David Leavy said “We are planning to very vigorously and aggressively defend and protect our rights under the existing contracts,” Leavy said.

According to the suit, WPT had the right to develop other poker-related programming, provided it gave the Travel Channel the first opportunity to license the show and the last right to refusal.

WPT said it proposed such a show, “Professional Poker Tour,” in July 2004 but that negotiations with the defendants were not successful in the 60-day exclusive window.

WPT said it then shopped the show to other networks, including ESPN, which proposed to license the show September 12. That triggered a 15-day “last refusal” period for the defendants, who allegedly sent threatening letters to WPT and ESPN.

One such letter allegedly threatened ESPN with legal action because the Travel Channel said it already had licensed the show, something WPT denied.

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