Ted Turner

Ted Turner (1938 -)

Ted Turner is a broadcasting entrepreneur, philanthropist, and sports enthusiast that created and developed some of the most profitable broadcasting and television networks in media history – TBS (Turner Broadcasting System), CNN (Cable News Network), and TNT (Turner Network Television). Based out of Atlanta, Georgia, he also capitalized on his love of sports by buying both the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Hawks, two professional sports teams, piloting professional yachting teams, and founding the Goodwill Games.

Ted Turner was born Robert Edward Turner III on November 19, 1938, in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father, a billboard magnate, moved the family to Savanna, Georgia, when Ted was nine. Coming from a wealthy family, Ted was sent to a boy’s prep school in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which groomed him for college at Brown University. At college, he devoted a lot of his time to the debate and sailing teams, as well as his fraternity. Unfortunately, he was expelled from Brown University for having a female student in his dorm room.

After Ted left Brown University, he moved back to Georgia and settled in Macon, where he ran a branch of his fathers advertising business. Following his fathers 1963 suicide, Ted became the president and chief executive of the company, Turner Advertising Company, at age 24. He took the already successful advertising firm, and turned it into a global enterprise. Soon, Turner Advertising Company became the largest advertising company in the South, and Ted used the profits to purchase radio stations. In 1969, Ted sold several of the stations to buy a failing television station in Atlanta, Georgia, which he gave the call sign WTCG. The station initially showed old movies and cartoons, as well as third hand syndicated shows from larger networks. In 1973, WTCG won the rights to broadcast Atlanta Braves baseball games. Piggybacking on the success of larger cable-based stations, Teds satellite broadcasting network was heavily used to fill time slots and channels on the cable stations, which dramatically increased his company’s viewers and advertising, and his station eventually reached two million viewers, which made him worth $100 million at the time. WTCG was renamed WTBS after Ted was able to buy the call sign from a student radio station at MIT college, which let Ted strengthen the brand of his blossoming “Super-Station”, TBS (Turner Broadcasting Station).

Not content with merely broadcasting sporting events, Ted bought the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Hawks in 1976. This not only gave him broadcasting rights over his own teams appearances, but it allowed him to use TBS to make the Atlanta Braves a household name wherever his station was carried, which at the time, was already in almost every home in America. Following the success of his sporting/broadcasting monopoly, Ted created the Goodwill Games as a way for TBS to provide Olympic style sporting events on television, which was previously only offered by one of the three major television networks.

CNN (Cable News Network) was created by Ted in 1980, and was meant to fulfill his vision of the worlds first 24 hour news network, promising to report on the worlds events until the proverbial “end of the world”. In an effort to expand from television and broadcasting to movies and production, Ted bought the film studio MGM/UA (Metro-Goldwin Mayer/United Artists) Entertainment Company in 1986. This acquisition put Ted severely in debt, and he was forced to turn around and sell major parts of MGM/UA back to the original owner, but Ted kept the rights to everything produced by the two merged studios prior to the 1986 acquisition. Using a great deal of the footage he still owned from MGM/UA, Ted created TNT (Turner Network Television), Turner Classic Movies, and the Cartoon Network. In 1996, TBS merged with Time Warner, Inc. where Ted served as vice chairman of Time Warner and headed up the company’s cable network division. Time Warner eventually merged with Internet provider AOL. Following the dot-com bust in the late 90’s, AOL pulled Time Warner’s stock down, which prompted Ted to act hostile towards Time Warner’s CEO and board, prompting his forced resignation in 2002. All together, it is estimated that Ted lost as much as $7 billion dollars in the failed merger. Ted continues to own and operate CNN and other television stations, and continues to use his media outlets to serve as a megaphone for his opinions on politics, healthcare, foreign policy, and sports.

– Ron LaPoint
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9 Responses to Ted Turner

  1. stephswitzky says:

    Well, I am a litle embarassed to say that I did not know most of that about Ted Turner. I knew that some guy named Ted Turner was associated with TBS and CNN and some cable company but that is all. His resume includes a lot more than that!

    I like all that he does philanthropically, especially with the endangered species. I think he has a lot of power and he has taken it to heart that with great power comes great responsibility.

    I remember wondering why the Braves were always on TV and the Royals weren’t! Now I know! =)

  2. Zhao qi says:

    I didn’t know Ted Turner until I read the text. Through the introduction of the Ted Turner, two aspects give me a deep impression on my heart. One thing is about the whole life of Ted Turner, Ted Turner never stay at one same point in his career life. When He fulfill his one dream, he always search for other dreams and so on. If he stays at the same point in his career life, he will not achieve great success in his life. The second thing is about the great effort of him. No matter what kind of difficulties he encountered, he never step back and try his best to overcome the difficulties.

  3. vegavin says:

    Nice! I LOVE the braves so that excited me right off the bat! (pun intended) 😛 Really, Ted’s life is a perfect example of the quote “Big risk leaves room for big success”. And that’s exactly the way he took it. It seems as if he took every opportunity and every loss with a grain of salt and proceeded towards the next big thing. How funny that he was kicked out of Brown for a girl in his room. I bet Brown wished they had him back when they saw all of his success. Some are just born/meant to be and don’t let others step in their way. I’m also in love with Turner Classic Movies, TBS, and Cartoon Network (part of the time), but I’m curious, what does the W stand for in WTBS and WTCG? It’s those dang people born with the money that have something financially to stand on and have crazy success….how do I get in on that? :p Nicely done, LaPoint. Kudos. Very informational and straightforward…TELL IT HOW IT IS!! You did. Thank you. 🙂

    • The “W” that precedes broadcasting call signs is merely an internationally recognized way to designate a call sign as being American (K – W – N are American prefixes), so WTBS, WTCG, and other 4-digit “call signs” are just following protocol. Glad you enjoyed the article!

  4. rabovaird80 says:

    I thought it was funny that he was expelled from Brown for having a female student in his dorm room. In today’s world, that seems so alien, unless it has happened at a school with high ethical and moral standards, like Brigham Young or Oral Roberts.

    So, the beginning of Turner’s career and the burgeoning of his successes all happened as a result of him being kicked out of school? Just goes to show that a person with the savvy and intelligence that it takes to become extremely successful doesn’t always need a college degree to get the job done.

  5. srchapman2 says:

    I am not going to lie, all I really knew about Ted Turner was what was shown on an episode of Family Guy, and that was pretty much just that he was rich and owned TNT and TBS. That is really interesting to find out about his troubles with MGM/UA. And although our book covered a bit of his story in one of the chapters, this is much more insightful as to how much he has and how much he controls. Such as, I had no idea that he owned Cartoon Network. An interesting man, and a very interesting read.

  6. qzhaoqi says:

    I think in this article the most impressin thing to me is the spirit of him. Firstly, Ted Turner only reported to the sports events but he didn’t merely content with the repotting. We can imagine that if he stays at the first point to only report the sports events, he can’t achieve great success in his whole life.

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