Turner Broadcasting System
In 1970 Atlanta businessman Ted Turner, who rarely watched television, believed that if he could transform his family's dying billboard company into a multimillion dollar success, as he had done in the 1960s, then he could do great things for a run-down, independent Atlanta television station.
WTCG competed with varying degrees of success against the "big three" networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC. When it began broadcasting Atlanta Braves baseball games in 1973, the station took viewers away from ABC affiliate WSB-TV, which previously held broadcasting rights for the games. To keep the Braves in town and WTCG's programming secure, Turner bought the team in 1976 for $10 million.
Longing to reach viewers with poor reception outside Atlanta, Turner followed HBO (Home Box Office) in using satellite. In 1976 WTCG became the first national superstation by distributing programming via satellite to cable systems across the country. This move, along with the airing of more than sixty Braves games per season, transformed Atlanta from a three-station market into a four-station market.
The station's name has changed several times. After the company name changed to Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. in 1979, the station name became SuperStation WTBS. In 1987 the "W" was dropped from "WTBS." Two years later SuperStation TBS became TBS Superstation. In 1991 "Superstation" was dropped but in 1996 was reinstated; it has been TBS Superstation ever since.
In 1996 Turner Broadcasting merged with Time Warner, creating an entertainment giant worth an estimated $6.5 billion. At that time, Turner gave up principal control of his properties, networks, and sports teams. Four years later, Time Warner merged with America Online (AOL), marking the largest corporate union in history, as well as the beginning of the end of Turner's career in communications. Over the years Turner Broadcasting has grown rapidly and today consists of multiple networks and businesses, among them Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies, NASCAR.com, PGA.com, two radio networks, and a syndicated news service.
Turner Broadcasting—headed by chairman and chief executive officer Philip I. Kent since February 2003—is an industry model for providing news and entertainment to people around the world. In 2007 the company expanded its global audience through the acquisition of Claxson, a Latin American interactive pay television network headquartered in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and in Miami, Florida.
Frederick Allen, Atlanta Rising: The Invention of an International City, 1946-1996 (Atlanta: Longstreet Press, 1996).
David K. Gleason and Don O'Briant, Atlanta (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1994).
Roger Vaughan, Ted Turner: The Man behind the Mouth (Boston: Sail Books, 1978).
Hank Whittemore, CNN: The Inside Story (Boston: Little, Brown, 1990).
Whitney Miller, Atlanta
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