Submission of a suitor

TED TURNER is best known in the UK for two things: owning cable news channel CNN, and marrying Jane Fonda. Mr Turner has done a fair bit of wooing in his private life - Ms Fonda is his third wife - but even more in his business life. He has been trying to buy a television network in the US for 10 years but has always been frustrated. On Thursday, he appeared to have finally given up, when Time Warner proposed to take control his company, Turner Broadcasting System, for $10bn (pounds 6.4bn) - but only after years of frantic and convoluted wooing with almost everybody who counts in the media business.

Mr Turner is regarded as one of the founders of US cable television. In 1985, he made his first attempt to take over one of the big three TV networks, CBS. He was beaten to it by Larry Tisch, who became CBS chairman. The same year he set up CNN. Few people outside the US had heard of it before the Gulf War. After it, everyone had.

TBS has a fistful of other businesses besides CNN. They include four more cable channels, MGM's film library, sports programming, and two film production companies, New Line Cinema and Castle Rock Entertainment. All these acquisitions left TBS short of capital, forcing it to sell shares to two other media giants, Time Warner and the cable network operator TCI.

But it is these shareholdings that have caused Mr Turner so many troubles. Time Warner holds 18 per cent of TBS and TCI 21 per cent, and he can do little without their agreement. It is difficult to accommodate the various ambitions of three media moguls, and this trio have at times resembled three cats in a sack.

Remarkable reversals of strategy have been attempted over the past year. Last summer, Mr Turner was dancing around CBS for the second time, but by the autumn he had turned his attentions to another TV network, NBC.

The problems were Time Warner and TCI. US media ownership rules do not allow one company to own a cable network and a national TV network in the same market, and Time Warner has a cable network in New York. At one stage, Time Warner was thought to be trying to swap its TBS stake for one of the TBS companies, while negotiations to sell its stake to TCI came to nothing. By spring 1995, talks between TBS and NBC had collapsed.

But things really hotted up this summer, with the third US network, ABC/Capital Cities, being snapped up by Disney, and Westinghouse making a $5.4bn agreed bid for CBS.

Time Warner's proposed take- over of TBS in a share swap deal would seem to bring Mr Turner's ambition to own a TV network to an end. It is not a straightforward deal, since TCI and Time Warner's minority shareholder Seagram must both agree. What will become of a proposed $2bn deal between TBS and Bill Gates' Microsoft, and an incomplete deal by Mr Turner to purchase Samuel Goldwyn Mayer, is not yet clear. Last summer, Mr Turner predicted all three US TV networks would have changed hands within the next three years. He made no predictions about his company.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn