the course of three decades, Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) has
grown from a regional outdoor advertising firm into one of the world's
largest and most successful media conglomerates. Beginning in the
late 1960s, Ted Turner changed his father's company, Turner Advertising,
first into Turner Communications Company and then into Turner Broadcasting
System. Each name change represented a stage in the building of
an empire that would come to encompass broadcast television and
radio, cable program services, movie and television production companies,
home video, and sports teams.
began with Turner's purchase of failing Atlanta UHF station, WJRJ,
in 1968. He immediately renamed the station WTCG (for Turner Communications
Group) and began to look for programming. What Turner found were
old movies and syndicated television series, many of which he purchased
outright with a view toward unrestricted future showings. He used
these to counterprogram the network affiliates, going after such
audience segments as children and people who did not watch the news.
By the early 1970s, WTCG also offered local sports programming--first
professional wrestling and then Atlanta Braves baseball, Atlanta
Hawks basketball, and Atlanta Flames hockey. In 1976, Turner purchased
the Braves, securing long-term access to his single most critical
source of programming.
old movies and TV programs combined with the sports coverage proved
to be a formula for success. By 1972, WTCG boasted a 15% share of
the Atlanta audience, and the station's signal had begun to be carried
by microwave to cable systems in the Atlanta region. When Turner
heard about Home Box Office's groundbreaking satellite debut in
1975, he quickly began preparations to use the same technology to
extend WTCG's signal. Through a series of adroit negotiations, Turner
set up (as a business separate from Turner Communications) a company
called Southern Satellite Systems, Inc. to uplink WTCG's signal
to an RCA communications satellite. In 1976, WTCG became the second
satellite-delivered cable program service and the first satellite
superstation was renamed WTBS in the late 1970s. In 1981 Cable News
Network (CNN), the first of Turner Broadcasting System's cable-only
program services, was launched. Throughout the following decade
CNN branched into specialized news services, including CNN Radio,
CNN International, CNN Headline News, and CNN Airport Network.
the 1980s, strategic programming acquisitions led to more new cable
ventures for Turner Broadcasting. In 1986 Turner added the entire
MGM film library to his existing stock of old movies. Two years
later Turner Network Television (TNT), a general-interest cable
program service that features many movies, was launched. The Turner
film library also supplies Turner Classic Movies, launched in 1994.
Turner's 1991 acquisition of Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, both the production
studio and the syndication library, ensured a continuous supply
of programming for both the TBS superstation and The Cartoon Network,
launched in 1992. Several foreign-language versions of The Cartoon
Network either exist or are being developed. Finally, in addition
to the TBS superstation's established market position as a sports
programming outlet, Turner Broadcasting also owns SportSouth, a
regional sports programming service.
Turner holdings include New Line Cinema, Castle Rock Entertainment,
Turner Entertainment Co., Turner Pictures Worldwide, Turner Home
entertainment, Turner Publishing, Turner Educational Services, Turner
Interactive, and the Atlanta Hawks.
the earliest efforts to revamp WTCG, much of Ted Turner's television
success has lay in his and his employees' ability to acquire innovative
and inexpensive sources of programming and to make that programming
available through as many outlets as possible. Thus Turner Broadcasting
System's current holdings represent both program material--in the
form of film and television libraries, production houses, and sports
teams--and the means of distributing that programming.
In 1995 TBS began what may yet be its most significant negoiations
when it entered into an agreement to become part of the Time-Warner
media conglomerate. If approved by courts and regulatory agencies
TBS would add its resources, its staff--and Ted Turner to one of
the largest media organizations in the world.
Amdur, Meredith. "The Boundless Ted Turner: Road to Globalization."
Broadcasting & Cable (Washington, D.C.), 11 April 1994.
Porter. It Ain't As Easy As It Looks: Ted Turner's Amazing Story.
New York: Crown, 1993.
Bill. "Ted Turner is Not Afraid to Turn His Personal Vision Into
a Multimillion-Dollar Project for His Company." New York Times,
22 November 1993.
"Ted Turner's Time of Discontent (interview). New York Times,
6 June 1993.
Richard. "Time Warnter's Head Turner." Time (New York), 11
"Europe Plan by Turner." New York Times, 9 March 1993.
Geraldine. "Government Review of Turner-Time Deal." The New York
Times, 10 October 1995.
Robert, and Gerald J. Goldberg. Citizen Turner: The Wild Rise
Of An American Tycoon. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1995.
Mark. "Time Warner and Turner Seal Merger: After 5 Weeks, a $7.5
Billion Stock Deal." The New York Times, 23 September 1995.
Johnnie L. "An Urge to Merge: Foxes in the Chicken Coop."
York), 11 September 1995.
"Time's Uneasy Pieces." Newsweek (New York), 2 October 1995.
Taub, James. "Reaching for Conquest." Channels of Communication
(New York), July-August 1983.
also Cable Networks; Cable News Network; Superstation; Turner, Ted;
United States: Cable