October 19, 2009
The Hollywood Reporter
By Paul Bond
No knock on his “good friend” Jeff Bewkes — or on Superman — but Ted Turner wishes that he were running Time Warner so that he could make some changes at Cartoon Network and CNN, the cable news channel he founded 29 years ago.
At CNN, he wants “less fluffy news and more international news,” especially about China, Turner says in an interview set to run on Bloomberg TV on Friday. “Less talk, more news,” he says.
As for Cartoon Network, Turner tells anchor Betty Liu, “If I had control of it, I’d put ‘Captain Planet’ on at a top time period so that kids would see the environmental superhero instead of just Superman.”
The environment, along with population control and nuclear disarmament, have been pet projects of Turner’s for decades, and he has been spending more time with those issues since retiring from media a decade ago.
But he clearly misses his former occupation. When Liu asks him if there are any media mergers he’d like to see happen, Turner responds: “I’d like to see me running Time Warner.” He says later, “I’d like CNN to report to me, and the Cartoon Network.”
He did, though, give the thumbs up to the notion of Comcast acquiring a part of NBC Universal. “Go for it,” he said. “You’ve got to do something. They’ve got a real good cable system. And they don’t have that much programming.”
Then again, Turner was also a proponent of AOL’s purchase of Time Warner, which, nine years later, is generally regarded as the worst merger in corporate history.
Turner also says that Viacom-CBS mogul Sumner Redstone was correct when he said at a conference that selling Turner Broadcasting to Time Warner was Turner’s downfall.
“He’s right. I made a mistake. I was tired,” Turner tells Liu.
Turner also says he “buried the hatchet,” as Liu put it, with News Corp. topper Rupert Murdoch about 18 months ago. He dropped him a note the other day telling him he was doing a good job with the Wall Street Journal.
“He didn’t write me back. He might not have gotten the letter,” he says.
Not that he’s a fan of print newspapers: “You’re chopping all these trees down and making paper out of them and trying to deal with all the waste paper. It’s the biggest solid waste problem that we have.”