Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Mass Media Tycoon Turner Craves Network

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Mass Media Tycoon Turner Craves Network

Article excerpt

NEW YORK _ It's about time somebody bought a television network. Mr. Turner, you're up.

Unlike Alexander, who wept when there were no more worlds to conquer, mass media mogul Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, burns with a white heat to unite Turner Broadcasting System with a broadcast television network.

"I want to be able to play in the big game," an impassioned Turner told the National Press Club in September. "I don't want to be pushed around any more."

For the past couple of months he's been courting General Electric Co., parent company of NBC. The Wall Street Journal says TBS would like to acquire the Peacock Web in a $5 billion deal, including $2 billion in TBS stock, leaving GE with a 35 percent stake in the new company.

So far, though, GE isn't ready to deal.

Turner's courtship is nothing new. Since the early '80s he has wooed one or another of the Big Three networks. In 1985, he narrowly failed in a hostile takeover bid for CBS. So why is Turner hot to buy a network?

"You get more market share," he told the trade journal Multichannel News. "You have the ability to do pilots. There's tremendous synergies in news, tremendous synergies in sports and there'd be synergy in entertainment programming."

Synergy _ the combined work of disparate parts producing a result greater than the whole _ is just what Turner Broadcasting System needs nowadays.

TBS is vast. The No. 1 supplier of basic cable programming expanded meteorically in the past decade, fueled by the $1.1 billion acquisition of MGM's film library in 1986.

Its holdings, in chronological order of launch, include TBS Superstation (1976), CNN (1980), Headline News (1982), Turner Entertainment Co. (the MGM-UA library), CNN International (1985), Turner Network Television (1988), the Cartoon Network (1992) and Turner Classic Movies (1994).

TBS' international components include TNT Latin America (1991), Cartoon Network in Latin America (1993), TNT Cartoon Network in Europe (1993), and TNT Cartoon Network in Asia Pacific (1994).

Nonnetwork holdings include animators Hanna-Barbera, film companies New Line Cinema Corp. and Castle Rock Entertainment Films, Turner Publishing, Turner Home Entertainment _ and don't forget the Atlanta Hawks and the Atlanta Braves!

TBS has saturated cable TV, but the industry's explosive domestic growth has cooled to about 2 percent to 3 percent annually in the '90s. …

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