And Now – The News
June 1, 1980: CNN – Cable News Network – begins broadcasting as the first all news channel on television. CNN eventually achieves a #1 in Nielsen ratings, while Fox News is #1 in long-term viewers. Ted Turner’s news station didn’t always enjoy those types of numbers.
Turner was an advertising executive from Atlanta, Georgia where his father ran a million-dollar billboard business. At age 24, Ted took over the business after his father committed suicide. He bought his first radio station in 1970. He was 32 years old at the time. He parlayed this first station into a broadcasting conglomerate called Turner Broadcasting System [TBS] and by the end of the decade was interested in televising 24 hours of news a day on his new network.
The station was not immediately successful. It took until 1985 for CNN to actually show a profit. They gained a greater audience share in 1986 with their coverage of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. During the 1991 Gulf War, CNN was the place to turn to “be the first to know” of breaking news. They were the first to broadcast the disasters striking New York’s World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
CNN has branched out and now has specialized with spin offs of the news channel. They have bureaus worldwide and began their web presence in 1995 with CNN.com. They reach an estimated 1 ½ billion people in 212 countries and territories. CNN is available in over 88 million American households and in nearly 1 million hotel rooms. CNN is the only TV channel that can be received worldwide.
Turner himself is sometimes brash and makes controversial public statements, earning him the nickname “The Mouth of the South.” In 1976 he purchased a baseball team in order to help his WTBS television station. The team was one of his programming staples. The Atlanta Braves have remained in Georgia and now play at Turner Field. He is also known for his philanthropic efforts, having donated $1 billion to UN projects. He is a staunch supporter of both environmentalism and capitalism. He has been married three times but has remained single since his last divorce in 2001, from Jane Fonda.
“You should set goals beyond your reach so you always have something to live for.”
“Life is a game. Money is how we keep score.”
“The United States has got some of the dumbest people in the world. I want you to know that we know that.”
“My son is now an ‘entrepreneur.’ That’s what you’re called when you don’t have a job.”
“If I only had a little humility I would be perfect.” – all from Ted Turner