Franklin Laureate Database
R.E. (Ted) Turner
Philanthropist and Media Entrepreneur
Laureate Video (17.4M)
Award: Bower Business Leadership
Citation: The 2006 Bower Award for Business Leadership is presented to R. E. Turner for his visionary leadership in the worlds of business and media, as well as his philanthropic commitment to the health of our planet and the well being of its people.
Media visionary, philanthropist, and sportsman; rancher, environmentalist, and entrepreneur; and most recently, restauranteur, Robert Edward (Ted) Turner III's energy, dedication, and capacity to think outside of the box have made him a household name.
A graduate of Brown University, Turner began his media career in 1970 when his family-owned billboard advertising agency merged with Atlanta's Rice Broadcasting and took over controlling interest in a local television station, WTCG. Soon after, Turner became aware of an exciting new technology-based opportunity--a communications satellite available to rent. He immediately saw possibilities for global programming. WTCG made history, becoming the world's first "superstation." Renamed WTBS in 1979, the station became the primary revenue source financing the next components of the Turner Empire. In 1980 Turner launched the innovative Cable News Network (CNN), through the Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (TBS). Since that time, Turner has established numerous other cable networks including Headline News, CNN International, Turner Network Television (TNT), Cartoon Network, CNN Airport Network, and Turner Classic Movies. In 1996, Time Warner, Inc. and TBS, Inc. merged, and Turner became vice chairman of the company. In 2001, Time Warner merged with American Online, Inc. to form AOL Time Warner, Inc., one of the largest mergers in history. Turner became vice chairman and senior advisor at AOL Time Warner, a position in which he served until May 2003.
Turner has also made his mark as one of the nation's most influential philanthropists, donating more than a billion dollars to establish a number of non-profit foundations, including the Turner Foundation, Inc., the Endangered Species Fund, the United Nations Foundation (UNF), and the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). In 1997, Turner announced his historic pledge of up to $1 billion to the United Nations to promote a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world. Through NTI, which he co-chairs with former Senator Sam Nunn (D-Georgia), he works to increase public awareness of the still present danger from nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.