ENTERPRISE: TED TURNER AND THE NEWS WAR (TV)

Summary

One in this series of documentary programs which examine the American business community. Eric Sevareid hosts this documentary, which concentrates on the fierce battle for cable television news dominance between CNN (Cable News Network), owned by opinionated yachtsman Ted Turner, and SNC (Satellite News Channel), owned by Group W Westinghouse and ABC. This program traces the growth of Turner's media empire from one local Atlanta television station in the 1970s into a large satellite communications system which presented a twenty-four news service that was advertiser-supported, free from competition, and successful despite initial forecasts of doom from network news division personnel who doubted the viability of the product. In 1982, Group W and ABC offered competition in the form of SNC, a late entry into the round-the-clock cable news service, which depended on Senior Vice President Lloyd Warner to deliver much-needed commercial support for the fledgling Turner competitor.

This program reveals the gamesmanship which occurred between Turner and Warner during the years 1982-1983, as each service attempted to secure dominion over the market. Highlights include the following: Turner recalls that the network news division derisively dubbed CNN "Chicken Noodle News" when it first began broadcasting; footage of Warner giving a tour of SNC's Stamford, Connecticut base of operations; Turner assesses the new competition of SNC; a biographical sketch of Warner as he faces "the biggest challenge of his career"; the vicissitudes of the two news services' fortunes in advertising sales; footage of Turner's May 1983 visit to New York City to woo advertisers to CNN; Turner's prediction that seventy percent of all homes would be wired for cable in 1990; footage of Warner and Turner working the floor of the 1983 National Cable Television Association convention in Houston, Texas, attempting to get their product on as many cable systems as possible to increase advertiser interest; SNC's decision to accept a twenty-five million dollar buyout from Turner due to mounting losses and falling ABC stock prices; footage of Warner and Turner in the wake of their competition, separately offering their perspectives on the battle for cable news dominance.

Details

  • NETWORK: PBS WGBH Boston, MA
  • DATE: December 15, 1983 Thursday
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:28:01
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T:38234
  • GENRE: Public affairs/Documentaries
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Business
  • SERIES RUN: PBS - TV series, 1981-1984
  • COMMERCIALS:

CREDITS

    • Zvi Dor-Ner … Executive Producer
    • James Lipscomb … Producer, Director, Writer
    • Steve Eder … Associate Producer
    • Eric Sevareid … Host
    • Andrew MacMillan … Narrator
    • Ted Turner
    • Lloyd Warner