Ted Turner On Creating a TV News Channel Today: ‘Would you make it a serious news network?’

By Alex Weprin 

CNN founder Ted Turner is profiled by The Hollywood Reporter, looking at what he has been up to since leaving the media world. Among the revelations, while he still watches CNN, he doesn’t have the same affection for sister network HLN (formerly CNN Headline News):

Turner doesn’t pay attention to TV anymore, other than CNN. “I don’t watch entertainment,” he says. As for CNN’s sister network, HLN, “the News and Views Network” featuring Nancy Grace: “I haven’t watched in years. I want to see serious news.”

Turner also looks back wistfully on CNN’s founding, and wonders if the same thing could even happen in today’s fragmented TV marketplace:

“It’s been 12 years since I’ve been gone, but if you only had one news network, and there really was only one when CNN was there, would you make it a serious news network?” he ponders. “When you’ve got dozens — or many — then you can go in different formats. You could go right-wing like Fox News, you could go after a segment of the market and maybe you would be more successful than if you were going for the whole market.” Looking back, even he admits: “CNN wasn’t perfect. We spent several days when Jessica McClure fell down the well, and we covered O.J. [Simpson] driving around L.A. But those were such interesting stories.”

The story also looks back on the rough days that followed Turner as he was trying to build CNN

CNN’s prominence today makes it easy to forget that it was almost stillborn — not least when the satellite it required simply disappeared, forcing Turner to mount a life-or-death legal battle to get a slot on another one.

Throughout CNN’s emergence, nobody believed an all-news, all-the-
time network could function — except Turner. But he was convinced that audiences wanted a venue where they could find information whenever 
they wanted, and from the beginning proclaimed his faith in the enterprise, announcing, “We won’t be signing off until the world ends.”

Read the entire profile here.