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Posts Tagged ‘Ted Turner’

‘Dave and Lois’: Cable’s First Anchors Look Back at CNN’s First Newscast

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Back in 1980, Dave Walker and Lois Hart didn’t know exactly what CNN would become, but they were there–not just on day one, but newscast number one. They sat side by side, co-anchors of CNN’s very first newscast. “We were both very nervous, and I’m told that we looked very calm, so that’s good,” said Hart in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek.

The husband-and-wife team–”Dave and Lois”–had anchored together at a station in Sacramento, and took a leap on CNN, even though the idea of 24-hour cable news was untested and risky. “Ted Turner had a reputation as a maverick, and so that was exciting,” Walker told Bloomberg Businessweek. It was an adventure, and we were young and we don’t have kids, and it seemed like something that would be interesting, a lark, perhaps.”

CNN has survived, and evolved. Wagner and Hart left the network and later helped launch CNBC. But CNN–that adventure, that lark–clearly remains special to them. “I think I closed the newscast by saying it would go forever, and I hope that’s true,” said Hart.

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The Evening Ticker: Turner’s Island, AJAM’s Exclusive, CNN Philippines’ Launch

  • CNN founder Ted Turner has listed a private island off the coast of South Carolina for a not-for-the-faint-of-heart asking price of $23.777 million. The WSJ reports Turner bought St. Phillips Island as a family retreat back in 1979, but has “not been able to visit it as much as we would like” in recent years.

  • Al Jazeera America has obtained what the network describes as exclusive footage of an assault by an ISIS unit battling Iraqi forces. AJAM’s Imran Khan says “the military tactics of ISIL fighters has so far been very secretive… but for the first time, we’re able to see how well-trained and how well-disciplined they are as a fighting force.”

  • CNN and Nine Media are partnering for “CNN Philippines,” an English language free-to-air channel that will also run 24-hours a day on cable and pay TV. CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker says the deal “enables us to provide first-class news and information to millions of Filipinos in a way that we have not been able to previously.”

Turner to Cut 10% of Workforce

cnn304As part of Turner 2020, the cost-cutting and reorganization plan announced earlier this year, the parent company of CNN, HLN, TBS and others, just announced it plans to cut 1,475 jobs.

The cuts, first announced in August, will come from across the company’s networks and corporate functions and will include layoffs, buyouts and unfilled positions. Turner says it will also add 150 new jobs.

“Employees whose positions are directly impacted will be advised over the next two weeks and will be offered severance pay for transition,” CEO John Martin writes in a note to staff.

Turner Broadcasting was founded in Atlanta by Ted Turner in 1970. Turner merged his company with Time Warner in 1996. Atlanta will continue to house the largest employee base, currently at 5,500 full-time employees.

Read Martin’s note after the jump…

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Where Are They Now? Bobbie Battista

Battista1TVNewser continues a multi-week series, catching up with some tvnewsers of yesterday to learn about their lives now, and their perspectives on the industry.  Today we hear from former CNN anchor Bobbie Battista. In two weeks: former Fox News Channel anchor Linda Vester.  

As Bobbie Battista will tell you, sometimes it all boils down to “being in the right place, at the right time, having made a lucky decision.”

And heeding some wise counsel from a parent.

It was 1981, and Battista had risen from a secretarial position to shatter a glass ceiling as the first woman anchor at Raleigh powerhouse WRAL-TV.  Alongside colleague Charlie Gaddy, the duo’s evening newscasts pulled in stratospheric ratings.

In short order, Battista started fielding a slew of offers from larger local markets. Another intriguing invitation came from a fledgling, 24-hour cable news operation called CNN.

“My father thought [CNN] was a good move,” Battista tells TVNewser.  After weighing her options, she decided to take her dad’s advice.

Little did Battista know that the move to Atlanta would put her on track to make broadcast news history once again.

In the eighties, as CNN started to be seen in a growing number of American homes, so too did it become available in previously-unreachable corners of the earth.

“I was hugely known in Poland!” Battista remembers with a laugh. CNN founder Ted Turner had struck an unheard-of deal, to have several minutes of network programming featured each evening on state-run television in the Communist country.  The time slot coincided with Battista’s anchor shift.

A hit with Iron Curtain viewers, Battista was sent to Poland for a ten-day goodwill tour. “It wasn’t really even something you could grasp,” she reflects. “What you were struck by was the influence that CNN was beginning to have in the world.”

The network’s ascendancy intensified during the Gulf War.

“Everyone involved in that conflict – politically, militarily – they were watching CNN,” says Battista.  “It was an amazingly important responsibility.”

Over the next many years, she’d go on to cover the Challenger tragedy, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the crumbling of the Soviet Empire, and every presidential election along the way.

By 2002, feeling “a little burned out” – and after a slew of what she viewed as disappointing changes at CNN in the wake of the AOL-Time Warner merger – Battista decided to leave the network after 22 years.

More than a decade later, she still watches CNN every day, but is wary of what she sees as “brand erosion.”  She says viewers have come up to her over the years to ask, “What happened to CNN?”

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Would Michael Bloomberg Buy CNN?

cavutobloombergFollowing his fiery interview on CNN, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was interviewed by Neil Cavuto on his Fox News show. In this interview, CNN came up as a topic of discussion. As 21st Century Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch looks to acquire Time Warner, in which case CNN would have to be spun off, Cavuto asked the finance and media mogul if he’d be interested in buying CNN.

“I can’t think of why we would be interested in buying CNN. We’ve got a business, we’ve got to reinvest in our business and work very hard. I just did an interview in the same building with Wolf Blitzer on CNN. A lot of people like CNN, a lot of people watch it. Ted Turner had a great concept when he started it.”

“You never say never, but in this case I can say probably never.”

Ted Turner Hospitalized in Argentina

CNN founder Ted Turner is currently undergoing observation at a hospital in Buenos Aires. Turner, 75, was treated earlier today at a hospital in Bariloche, in the western part of Argentina and was later transferred to the Argentine capital. Reuters reports that the media mogul had appendicitis. Turner’s spokesman Phillip Evans tells CNN, “Given it is our policy not to comment on his personal health, no further details will be provided.” Turner owns three ranches in Argentina, including one near Bariloche.


Your Pick for Piers Morgan’s Replacement is…

Larry KingAfter Larry King fueled speculation about a possible return to CNN following the news of Piers Morgan‘s show cancellation, we asked you who you’d like to see slide into the 9pmET CNN chair.

With close to 12,000 overall poll votes, the legendary interviewer in suspenders ran away with the win, with 86% of you voting for King to retake the 9pm hour he hosted for 25 years. Coming in a distant second was recently departed “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno with 8%.

Rounding out the top five were Katie Couric (3%), and a tie between CNN’s Bill Weir and “other” at 2%. Some of your other selections included embattled teen star Justin Bieber, Jerry Seinfeld, and the highly camera-friendly Donald Duck. We’re keeping the poll open, so feel free to vote if you haven’t.

King told us last year it was CNN founder Ted Turner that gave him his big break.

Wolf Blitzer Profiles CNN Founder Ted Turner

CNN will turn an eye on itself this weekend as Wolf Blitzer profiles Ted Turner, who founded CNN in 1980. The hourlong special, “Ted Turner: The Maverick Man,” will air at 7pm and 1amET Sunday.

Blitzer reported for the special in both Atlanta and Montana, where Turner has a ranch. Among the interviews that will be featured are Turner’s five children, ex-wife Jane Fonda, President Jimmy Carter and Larry King. Watch a preview:

Zimmerman Trial Stirs More Pundit Pontification About CNN

Is there any cable channel that gets analyzed as much as CNN? The original cable news network finds itself once again in the spotlight, as critics attack it for its coverage of the George Zimmerman trial. Of course, it isn’t all bad news for Ted Turner‘s brainchild.

At Gawker, former CNN executive turned journalism professor Sid Bedingfield is critical of the trial coverage (focusing on CNN, though it could apply to any of the channels), arguing that it plays into racial issues.

The goal of the criminal-trial-as-entertainment genre is simple: Hook the viewer into the narrative. Get them emotionally invested in the characters. And, most importantly, persuade them to choose sides. Team Zimmerman vs. Team Trayvon.

AdWeek‘s Sam Thielman meanwhile writes that CNN has seen something of a renaissance the last few months when it comes to driving tune-in.
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Jeff Zucker to CNN Staff: ‘We are still unequivocally dedicated to quality journalism’

CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker sent an email to CNN staffers this afternoon, honoring the channel’s 33rd anniversary tomorrow, June 1.

In 1980, Ted Turner launched a revolutionary idea in news, and CNN was born. A lot has changed since then – from the way we gather the news to the countless ways our audience consumes it.

At the same time, a lot has not changed. We are still unequivocally dedicated to quality journalism and our storytelling abilities remain unparalleled around the globe.

Zucker also included a new promo video for CNN (watch it below), which he said “showcases some of who we are and what we do.” His full memo to staff is after the jump.

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