Ted's Start in Television


n 1970, he took over a struggling UHF channel in Atlanta, Channel 17. Out of the four major Atlanta based channels, it placed last. It was a bare-bones channel providing the community with only the minimal news required by the FCC. No original programming was produced, but instead, reruns of old shows and black and white movies were the fair of this station. In the space of just three years, Turner turned it into a company that made a profit and in 1975, his station was one of the first to gain a nationwide audience. This was TBS and it was based totally on old reruns and movies. Advertising revenue was boosted greatly as well.

Just a year later, Turner seemed to be in the savior business. He started in a totally new direction and bought the Atlanta Braves for $11 million, saving the team and possibly even Atlanta sports in general. One year later, he bought the Atlanta Hawks basketball team. When the National League owners approved Turner’s buy out of the Braves on January 14, 1976, he then handed the responsibility of managing the teams over to Stan Kasten. With Kasten’s leadership, the Braves have won a couple of times in the World Series.

Ted did suffer some failures though, in the TV business. Some notable failures were the hostile takeover attempt of CBS and the large sum of money he paid ($1.6 billion) for the MGM film library. But he has a resilience and has always picked himself back up and "recreated himself."

In 1980 he started what was to become one of the most comprehensive news organizations in the United States and possibly the world. It was this year that he formed CNN, a 24-hour news channel and the first national cable network. It started off very well, but was destined to fail. To prove CNN as a formidable competitor to existing news organizations, CNN attempted to carry Jimmy Carter’s press conference live while still making a scheduled report from the Middle East. It worked very well and CNN was the only news source that carried the press conference live.

Eight years later, Turner began another station, TNT (Turner Network Television). TNT is currently viewed in over 61 million homes across America.

In August, 1990, he also launched a network that stretched across the Southeast called SportSouth. The network provides coverage of Atlanta Braves baseball, Atanta Hawks and Charlotte hornets basketball, college football, auto racing, volleyball, golf, tennis and other major sporting events. This was a joint venture with Scripps Howard and Liberty Media and is available in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Kentucky. He eventually sold the network to FOX Sports, though.

In 1996, Turner finalized a foxy deal with Time Warner. Time Warner was given ownership of TBS and everything under it. On October 10, 1996, he became the Vice Chairman of Time Warner, Inc. Now he had control of everything he had control of before plus E! Entertainment and Comedy Central.


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