Ted Turner Leaves Media World for Good

Business Week reports that CNN founder Ted Turner is leaving the media world for good, and will spend more time promoting his restaurant chain, Ted's Montana Grill. He is leaving at the comparatively young age of 67, younger than his archrival and Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch, who is 75.

Turner will leave the board of Time Warner, and Business Week says he is "just tired of the game." The final straw was the board's "decision in February to sell his Turner South sports network to Murdoch."

"If I only had a little humility, I would be perfect." Ted Turner always managed to give us good quote. For that alone, we will miss the outrageous from Captain Courageous, as he became known for his yachting prowess. On May 19, Robert Edward Turner III bids adieu to the media world when he steps off the Time Warner Inc. (TWX ) board at the company's annual meeting in Atlanta. Except for his remaining 33 million Time Warner shares, Turner's resignation will sever his ties to the media industry, ending a prolific career that began in 1961 when the Brown University dropout joined his father's billboard business.

"If I only had a little humility, I would be perfect." Ted Turner always managed to give us good quote. For that alone, we will miss the outrageous from Captain Courageous, as he became known for his yachting prowess. On May 19, Robert Edward Turner III bids adieu to the media world when he steps off the Time Warner Inc. (TWX ) board at the company's annual meeting in Atlanta. Except for his remaining 33 million Time Warner shares, Turner's resignation will sever his ties to the media industry, ending a prolific career that began in 1961 when the Brown University dropout joined his father's billboard business. Advertisement

Even though Turner has been relegated to background status these past years, his footprints are all over the media landscape. A complicated mix of arrogance and vulnerability, Turner is one of the rare visionaries, like his arch-nemesis Rupert Murdoch, who trusts his gut over financial models. He was the first to see the potential of satellites to beam programming across the country. In 1976 he took local Atlanta UHF Channel 17 and transformed it into a "superstation." Where would TV's heavyweight, ESPN, be today without that first bold stroke?....

When it comes to moguldom, Turner is retiring early at 67 (consider that Murdoch is 75 and Sumner Redstone a mere 82). But it could be that Turner is just tired of the game. Three years ago he lost the title of vice-chairman at Time Warner, and the board's decision in February to sell his Turner South sports network to Murdoch was the final straw, friends say. Living large for so long can wear you out. And how many media acts can you have? Remember, this was an executive who almost lost it all in the late 1980s, paying too much for MGM's (MGM ) film library before salvaging his company thanks to a bailout by fellow cable operators, including Malone's TCI.

Now Turner says he wants to devote time to his bison burger restaurant chain, Ted's Montana Grill, including an outlet set to open later this year in Time Warner's Time-Life building in New York. Mainly, though, he's a philanthropist -- he pledged $1 billion to the United Nations in 1997.

Ted Turner won the Media Research Center's Dishonors Award for Quote of the Year in 2006. The media mogul demonstrated his ability to judge character from photographs.

Ted Turner: "I am absolutely convinced that the North Koreans are absolutely sincere. There’s really no reason for them to cheat [on nukes]....I looked them right in the eyes. And they looked like they meant the truth. I mean, you know, just because somebody’s done something wrong in the past doesn’t mean they can’t do right in the future or the present. That happens all the, all the time."
Wolf Blitzer: "But this is one of the most despotic regimes and Kim Jong-Il is one of the worst men on Earth. Isn’t that a fair assessment?"
Turner: "Well, I didn’t get to meet him, but he didn’t look — in the pictures that I’ve seen of him on CNN, he didn’t look too much different than most other people I’ve met."
Blitzer: "But, look at the way, look at the way he’s, look at the way he’s treating his own people."
Turner: "Well, hey, listen. I saw a lot of people over there. They were thin and they were riding bicycles instead of driving in cars, but–"
Blitzer: "A lot of those people are starving."
Turner: "I didn’t see any, I didn’t see any brutality...."
— Exchange on CNN’s The Situation Room, September 19.