The fourth in this series of annual lectures honoring William S. Paley, the founder of CBS and The Museum of Television & Radio. The guest speaker for this lecture is maverick entrepreneur Ted Turner, a pioneering force in television for nearly twenty years. Turner shaped the future of cable television by using satellite technology to distribute an obscure Atlanta UHF station to a national audience, creating the phenomenally successful superstation TBS. His subsequent achievements, in particular the launching of CNN and its spin-off, Headline News Network, continue to redefine and challenge the broadcasting and cable industry. Museum president Robert M. Batscha welcomes the audience and begins the event with a screening of clips highlighting Ted Turner's television career, including footage of the following: the launching of Turner's Cable News Network (CNN) on June 1, 1980; "Enterprise" (1984); CNN live coverage of the Challenger Explosion (1986), the Gulf War (1991), and other major recent events; a "60 Minutes" interview with Turner (1986); a Turner appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (1986); and a sampling of Turner Original programming, including "Jacques Cousteau: The First 75 Years" and "Andersonville" (1996), among other programs. After the screening, Batscha introduces Turner, who takes the podium and speaks on the following topics, among others: broadcasting as a sacred trust and profound responsibility, as no industry in the world has more influence on youth; his simple "test" for acceptable programming (Would he want his children to watch it? Would his parents be proud of it?); his belief in the importance of individual freedom over imposed censorship; the importance of a responsible media for the survival of our society; the unintentional damage done by an industry which has become so pervasive and time-consuming as to diminish the quality of human interrelationships; the importance of family and community in people's lives; television as an addiction; the natural slowing-down he is experiencing with age; a meeting he had with the head of HBO during which such complex media issues were discussed that he jokingly went into the fetal position on the floor (and he demonstrates this for the seminar audience on the floor of the stage); the incredible influence of the print and broadcast media in a world where the family and other institutions are crumbling; and the more positive results of the cable explosion, including a greater amount of viewing options, allowing people to be more informed than ever before. Turner then entertains questions from the audience -- including queries from audience members Mortimer Levitt and Don Hewitt -- leading to Turner's comments on the following topics, among others: the need for individuals who make programming decisions to exercise personal responsibility and discretion; why he recently merged his company with Time Warner, a deal which has made him vice chairman of the media giant; his series of programs about the plight of Native Americans; his avoidance of the television tabloid news market; his thoughts about New Line Cinema's upcoming release of David Cronenberg's "Crash," a film he abhors and had personally yanked from New Line's release schedule; his contention that sex and violence should not be lumped together when criticizing film and television; what he sees in the future for the three major networks in a fragmenting industry; and doing business with Rupert Murdoch.

The William S. Paley Annual Lecture series is underwritten by an endowment from the CBS Fund of the Westinghouse Foundation.


  • DATE: November 4, 1996 Monday 12:45 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:12:25
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T:46127
  • GENRE: Seminars


  • Robert M. Batscha … Host, Moderator
  • Ted Turner … Honoree, Speaker
  • Don Hewitt
  • Mortimer Levitt
  • William S. Paley
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