Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (also known simply as Turner) is an American media conglomerate that is a division of Time Warner and manages the collection of cable television networks and properties initiated or acquired by Ted Turner. The company was founded in 1970, and merged with Time Warner on October 10, 1996. It now operates as a semi-autonomous unit of Time Warner. The company's assets include CNN, HLN, TBS, TNT, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, Boomerang and TruTV. The company's current chairman and CEO is John K. Martin. The headquarters of Turner's properties are located in both the CNN Center in Downtown Atlanta and the Turner Broadcasting campus off Techwood Drive in Midtown Atlanta, which also houses Turner Studios. Across Interstate 75/85 from the Techwood campus is the original home of Turner's WTBS superstation (now separated into its TBS cable network and Peachtree TV), which today houses the headquarters of Adult Swim and Williams Street Productions.
In 1970, Ted Turner, then owner of a successful Atlanta-based outdoor advertising company, purchased WJRJ-Atlanta, Channel 17, a small, struggling Ultra High Frequency station, and renamed it WTCG, for parent company Turner Communications Group. By careful programming acquisitions, Turner guided the station to success. During December 1976, WTCG originated the "superstation" concept, transmitting via satellite to cable systems.
On December 17, 1976 at 1:00 pm, WTCG Channel 17's signal was beamed via satellite to its four cable systems in Grand Island, Nebraska; Newport News, Virginia; Troy, Alabama; and Newton, Kansas. All four cable systems started receiving the 1948 Dana Andrews - Cesar Romero film Deep Waters already in progress. The movie had started 30 minutes earlier. WTCG went from being a little television station to a major TV network that every one of the 24,000 households outside of the 675,000 in Atlanta was receiving coast-to-coast. WTCG became a so-called Superstation and created a precedent of today's basic cable television.
HBO had gone to satellite transmissions to distribute its signal nationally in 1975, but that was a service cable subscribers were made to pay extra to receive. Ted Turner's innovation signaled the start of the basic cable revolution.
In 1979, the company changed its name to Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (TBS, Inc.) and the call letters of its main entertainment channel to WTBS.
On June 1, 1980, CNN was launched at 17:00 EST becoming the first 24-hour news cable channel. The husband and wife team of Dave Walker and Lois Hart news anchored the first newscast, Burt Reinhardt the then executive vice president of CNN, hired most of CNN's first 200 employees & 25-member staff including Bernard Shaw, the network's first news anchor.
In 1981, Turner Broadcasting System acquired Brut Productions from Faberge Inc.
In 1984, Turner initiated Cable Music Channel, his competition for WASEC's MTV. The channel was short-lived, but helped influence the original format of VH1.
In 1986, after a failed attempt to acquire CBS, Turner purchased the film studio MGM/UA Entertainment Co. from Kirk Kerkorian for $1.5 billion. Following the acquisition, Turner had an enormous debt and sold parts of the acquisition. MGM/UA Entertainment was sold back to Kirk Kerkorian. The MGM/UA Studio lot in Culver City was sold to Lorimar/Telepictures. Turner kept MGM's pre-May 1986 film and TV library as well as the Associated Artists Productions library (the pre-1950 Warner Bros. film library and the Fleischer Studios/Famous Studios Popeye cartoons originally released by Paramount Pictures), the U.S./Canadian distribution rights to the RKO Pictures library, and Gilligan's Island and its animated spin-offs. Turner Entertainment Co. was founded on August 4, 1986.
On October 3, 1988, the company launched Turner Network Television (TNT).