He a new sibling network, CNN Headline News,

He was known as “the Mouth from the
South,” “Captain Outrageous”, and after recovering from
financial troubles in the mid-1980s, “Captain Comeback.” Ted Turner,
by almost any set of standards, was as original, enterprising, belligerent, and
self-indulgent a man as America had ever produced. He made himself into a media
kingpin and even skippered an America’s Cup-winning yacht. Time magazine declared him “perhaps the most openly ambitious
man in America.” And by the end of the 1980s, he was also
one of the richest, presiding over an empire worth a staggering $5 billion.

 

In business, Turner was a gambler, and his biggest
gamble seemed, at first, a reckless one: a 24-hour news channel on the
fledgling medium of cable TV, where he had launched his
“Superstation” WTBS in 1976. Cable News Network (CNN) got off to a
slow start on June 1, 1980, but within two years, it was reaching 13.9
million homes. It provided live, round-the-clock coverage through satellite
uplinks, giving viewers a dramatic and irresistible window on the news as it
unfolded.

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Turner’s claim that he had created “the most
significant achievement in the annals of journalism” took on an aura of
truth. With breakneck speed, Turner’s network was on the scene for the decade’s
biggest stories: the shooting of President Reagan in March 1981, the explosion
of the space shuttle Challenger in January 1986, the May 1989 student uprisings
in Tiananmen Square, and the fall of the Berlin Wall in November of
that year. Frequently beating the big three networks to the punch, CNN provided
exhaustive, eyewitness coverage no mere half-hour news broadcast could hope to
match, although, as a 24-hour medium, it sometimes struggled to hold its
audience when little was happening.

 

As the 1980s came to a close, CNN and a new
sibling network, CNN Headline News, were reaching 51 million homes in the United States and countless others in 83 nations abroad. In
addition, Turner’s empire had expanded to include such holdings as Turner
Entertainment, which syndicated MGM movies, and the new Turner Network
Television (TNT) as well as the Atlanta Braves baseball team and basketball’s
Atlanta Hawks. “It’s obvious I was seeing that other people didn’t
see,” said Turner, “just like Columbus discovered the world was round.”

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