Turner is one of the entrepreneurs responsible for re-thinking the
way we use television, especially cable television, in the 1970s,
1980s and 1990s. But Ted Turner is known, loved and hated as much
for his unique personal style as for any particular accomplishment.
He is a flamboyantly Southern businessman in industries normally
run from New York and Los Angeles. Turner's penchant for wringing
every possible use from his corporations' possessions has enabled
him to establish a corporate empire with holdings in virtually every
area of the entertainment industry. In 1995, in what could be the
most significant personal and financial deal of his career, he agreed
to merge his holdings with those of international media conglomerat,
Time-Warner. Turner linked his corporation to an unusally powerful
career in broadcasting began in 1970, when his Turner Communications,
a family billboard company, merged with Rice Broadcasting and gained
control of WGTC, Channel 17 in Atlanta. WTCG succeeded under Turner's
ownership losing $900,000 before the merger in 1970, to making $1.8
million revenue in 1973). Turner made WTCG cable's first "superstation,"
broadcast by satellite to cable households around the United States.
Renamed WTBS (for Turner Broadcasting System) in 1979, the station
remained one of the most popular basic cable options through the
growth in cable households in the 1980s. The program schedule featured
a mixture of movies and series produced by Turner subsidiaries,
reruns from Turner's vast entertainment libraries, broadcasts of
Turner-owned Atlanta Braves' and Hawks' games, and shows related
to Turner's interest in the environment, such as explorer Jacques
Cousteau's Undersea Adventures and Audobon Society specials.
second great innovation in cable, the Cable News Network (CNN),
was launched in 1980. Turner's personal involvement in CNN appeared
to handicap the network from the start, since WTBS's jokey late-night
news program and CNN's shoestring budget suggested that Turner would
not commit to serious journalism. But CNN's 24-hour news programming
gained viewer loyalty and industry respect as it has challenged--and
often surpassed--the major networks' authority in reporting breaking
events, such as the Persian Gulf War. Turner, as well, refashioned
himself as a global newsman as CNN expanded into new markets (by
1995, it reached 156 million subscribers in 140 countries around
the world), banning the word "foreign" from CNN newscasts in favor
of "international." And following Turner's philosophy of finding
as many outlets for his products as possible, the CNN franchise
has grown to include CNN International, CNN Headline News, CNN Radio
and CNN Airport Network, as well as a variety of computer on-line
holdings are not limited to cable networks, although he also owns
Turner Network Television, Turner Classic Movies, Sportsouth and
The Cartoon Network. His Turner Entertainment Company manages one
of the world's largest film libraries, including the MGM library,
licensing broadcast and cable stations to show Hollywood classics
such as Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz and Citizen
Kane. Production companies include New Line Cinema, Castle Rock
Entertainment (which produced Seinfeld), Hanna-Barbera Cartoons,
and Turner Pictures Worldwide--all programming sources for his cable
and broadcast outlets. His Turner Home Entertainment oversees video
release of titles from the Turner library, as well as a publishing
house, educational services and a division devoted to exploring
ways to bring Turner titles on-line. And throughout his career,
Turner has endeavored to purchase one of the three major networks,
targeting each for takeover as it has become financially vulnerable.
a list of Turner's possessions cannot begin to capture the essence
of the personality which has made him one of the entertainment industry's
most recognizable figures. He earned the nickname "Captain Outrageous"
during his yachting days (capturing America's Cup in 1977 and losing
it in 1980), but his reputation for eccentric behavior has not been
limited to the sporting arena. When his efforts to "colorize" films
from his extensive black and white movie library--thereby broadening
the films' appeal to audiences who prefer color--raised the hackles
of film lovers and prompted congressional hearings on the authorship
and ownership of cinematic texts, Turner threatened to add color
to Citizen Kane, the 1941 Orson Welles classic which has
been lauded as the greatest film ever made. (Although Turner owns
the film, he didn't.)
has actively sought publicity both for himself and for a number
of causes he supports such as the environmental movement, world
peace, especially when they have been associated with Turner's media
or sports holdings. Two example are WTBS's Captain Planet environmental
cartoon or the Goodwill Games between United States and Soviet athletes
to which Turner has broadcasting rights. And with his third wife,
former actress, fitness guru, political activist and multimedia
mogul Jane Fonda, Turner has added support for Native American causes
(including a series of original films on TNT) to atone for his formerly
racist promotions of the Atlanta Braves. Long accustomed to his
role as "captain of his own fate," it remains to be seen how he
will arrange a position in a corporate structure he arranged for
but does not control.
Photo courtesy of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
(ROBERT EDWARD) TURNER. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A., 19
November 1938. Educated at Brown University. Married: 1) Judy Nye,
1960 (divorced); one daughter and one son; 2) Jane Shirley Smith,
1965 (divorced, 1988); one daughter and two sons; 3) Jane Fonda,
1991. Account executive, Turner Advertising Company, Atlanta, Georgia,
1961-63, president and chief operating officer, 1963-70; president
and chair of the board, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., Atlanta,
since 1970; chair of the board, Better World Society, Washington,
1985-90. Honorary degrees: D.Sc. in Commerce, Drexel University,
1982; LL.D., Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama, 1982, Atlanta
University, 1984; D. Entrepreneurial Sciences, Central New England
College of Technology, 1983; D. in Public Administration, Massachusetts
Maritime Academy, 1984; D. in Business Administration, University
of Charleston, 1985. Board of directors: Martin Luther King Center,
Atlanta. Recipient: America's Cup in his yacht Courageous, 1977;
named yachtsman of the year four times. Outstanding Entrepreneur
of the Year Award, Sales Marketing and Management Magazine,
1979; National Cable Television Association President's Award, 1979
and 1989; National News Media Award, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW),
1981; Special Award, Edinburgh International Television Festival,
Scotland, 1982; Media Awareness Award, United Vietnam Veterans Organization,
1983; Board of Governors Award, Atlanta chapter, NATAS, 1982; Special
Olympics Award, Special Olympics Committee, 1983; World Telecommunications
Pioneer Award, New York State Broadcasters Association, 1984; Golden
Plate Award, American Academy of Achievement, 1984; Silver Satellite
Award, American Women in Radio and Television; Lifetime Achievement
Award, New York International Film and Television Festival, 1984;
Tree of Life Award, Jewish National Fund, 1985; Golden Ace Award,
National Cable Television Academy, 1987; Sol Taishoff Award, National
Press Foundation, 1988; Chairman's Award, Cable Advertising Bureau,
1988; Directorate Award NATAS, 1989; Paul White Award, Radio and
Television News Directors Association Award, 1989; numerous other
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Connie. "Jerry's Deal." The New Yorker, 19 February 1996.
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New York Times, 6 June 1993.
Subrata N. "What New Worlds to Conquer?" Forbes (New York),
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Greg. "Ted Turner: Let Others Tinker with the Message: He Transforms
the Medium Itself" (interview). American Film (Washington,
D.C.), January-February 1989.
Geraldine. "Government Review of Turner-Time Warner Deal." The
New York Times, 10 October 1995.
Alison. "'They're not so Big;' Turner Pleased with Battle against
the Networks." Advertising Age (New York), 28 October 1991.
Golbert, Robert, and Gerald Jay Goldberg. Citizen Turner: The
Wild Rise of an American Tycoon. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1995.
Greenwald, John, and John Moody. "Hands Across the Cable: The Inside
Story of How Media titans Overcame Competitors and Egos to Create
a $20 Billion Giant." Time (New York), 2 October 1995.
O Israel." The Economist (London), 4 November 1989.
William A., III. "History as it Happens" ("Man of the Year" cover
story). Time (New York), 6 January 1992.
Lanham, Julie. "The Greening of Ted Turner." The Humanist,
Broke nor Broken: The Ever-resurgent Ted Turner" (interview).
Broadcasting (Washington, D.C.), 17 August 1987.
Painton, Priscilla. "The Taming of Ted Turner" ("Man of the Year"
cover story). Time (New York), 6 January 1992.
"Prince of the Global Village" ("Man of the Year" cover story).
Time (New York), 6 January 1992.
Scully, Sean. "Turner Backs Violence Guidelines." Broadcasting
& Cable (Washington, D.C.), 28 June 1993.
"Signoff" ("Talk of the Town" column). The New Yorker (New
York), 12 September 1988.
Christopher. "FTC Puts TW/Turner Under Microscope."
D.C.), 29 April 1996.
Bruce. "Ted Turner Turns it on" (interview). Audubon, November-December
"Ted Turner's Quantum Leap" (interview). Broadcasting (Washington,
D.C.), 31 March 1986.
Roger. The Grand Gesture: Ted Turner, Mariner, and the America's
Cup. Boston: Little, Brown, 1975.
Wayne. "Ted Turner Hones His Midas Touch" (interview). Advertising
Age (New York), 11 December 1989.
Whittemore, Hank. CNN, The Inside Story. Boston: Little,
Christian. Lead, Follow or Get out of the Way: The Story of Ted
Turner. New York: Times Books, 1981.
Richard. "The Greening of Ted Turner: As his once Shaky Ventures
Thrive He Turns into a Liberal Activist." Time (New York),
22 January 1990.
News Network; Colorization;
Time Warner; Turner
Broadcasting System; United
States: Cable Television