The Cable News Network, or as its most commonly abbreviated CNN, is an American-based cable news and satellite station that broadcasts out of studios located in Atlanta, Georgia. Available to view with a cable subscription, CNN first launched onto American TVs on June 1st, 1980.
This would prove to be a pinnacle moment for news broadcasting as we knew it. Back in those days, the news generally consisted of two news programs daily.
- Where Did It All Begin?
- How CNN Came To Life
- CNN’s Debut Programs
- Landmark Events That Solidified CNN’s Place As a Top ‘News’ Dog
- So, Who Owns CNN?
- Let’s Keep The “Who Owns” Info Coming!
- Who Owns CNN – Final Thoughts
First of its kind…
Whereas CNN leaped onto screens with a 24-hour channel dedicated only to news stories, shows, and programs. It was the first of its kind, and CNN paved a new path for live reporting and breaking news worldwide. Also, for the general public to be kept abreast of current affairs as they unfolded.
So, let’s take a trip down memory lane to see where and how it all started. And, of course, answer the most important question – Who Owns CNN?
Where Did It All Begin?
Ted Turner, then a young man of 24, took over his father’s billboard business, ‘Turner Advertising Company,’ back in March 1963 after his father’s ill-fated death. Turner’s father had made a lot of money which Ted learned was by lending the money back to the company.
With this sizable fund, and being the philanthropist that he was, Turner started purchasing local Southern radio stations in the late 60s. He ran the company for many years, simply expanding it globally and monopolizing the South.
Making a name for himself…
It all culminated in 1969 when he had the chance to buy a struggling TV station. Turner sold off his collection of radio stations and spent the next ten years making a name for himself in the TV broadcasting industry and doing a great job of it.
It was 1979 which saw the company change from ‘Turner Advertising Company’ to ‘Turner Broadcasting System’ or TBS for short.
How CNN Came To Life
By 1978 Turner had decided to take a chance on Reece Schonfeld’s proposition of a channel dedicated 24/7 to news broadcasting. Then with a lot of hard work, two years later, the epic channel was born.
Starting with just 300 staff, who were also the company’s primary investors putting up an incredible $20 billion. Ted Turner, Reece Schonfeld, and the original team saw CNN launched onto cable TV at 6.00 pm on Sunday, June 1st, 1980.
The birth of 24-hour news…
The channel opened with a still of the company’s brand new red and white logo. This was closely followed by an introduction from none other than the man of the hour, Ted Turner.
As was customary of Turner’s channel launches, next to be shown was a pre-recorded rendition of the national anthem, ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ After which came the first newscast in the history of CNN and the birth of the 24-hour news channel.
From local to international!
This exclusive spot was hosted by the husband and wife team Dave Walker and Lois Hart. CNN had its main stage at its headquarters in Atlanta. With bureaus dotted around the country in cities like Dallas, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C.
CNN was able to bring live coverage of exciting local news. Plus a full schedule of political, business, sports, health, entertainment, and weather reports. As well as in-depth discussion and interview programs and breaking international news stories.
Changing the face of broadcasting…
CNN had changed the face of News Broadcasting forever. Viewers were used to two news programs per day, one in the morning and one in the evening. Usually with 30-minute live broadcasts from the new studio over a range of channels. It was mostly local news, with a few minutes touching on international issues.
CNN’s Debut Programs
Original programs were broadcast with CNN’s launch in 1980, and these are just to name a few:
Moneyline – 1980 – 2009
Moneyline was CNN’s top financial show, running for 29 years. Hosted by Lou Dobbs, one of the original 300 investors; and he drew in the big bucks with his loyal crowd of followers. CNN took a huge hit upon his departure.
Sports Tonight – 1980 – 2001
The first sports-related newscast for CNN. It quickly evolved from a few minutes of the day’s sporting highlights to a full-blown 30-minute nightly program. It was hosted by Fred Hickman and Nick Charles, and the most popular segment was coined “Play of The Day.” This show was so popular a weekend spin-off was created, titled ‘Sports Saturday’ and ‘Sports Sunday.’
Style with Elsa Klensch 1980 – 2001
A program featuring interviews with famous designers and artists, focussing on global fashion design. Hosted by Australian Elsa Klensch. The first program had a spectacular lineup of guests, including Martha Graham, Liza Minnelli, Halston, and Andy Warhol.
Daybreak – 1980 – 2005
Daybreak was, as the name suggests, an early morning newscast hosted by Carol Costello. The hour-long show covered the most recent news stories in a very cut and dry style.
Evans and Novak – 1980 – 2002
This was the first political discussion and interview program which gained a huge following very early in its life. First hosted by Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, as it evolved, CNN brought in two more guest columnists, Al Hunt and Mark Shields. Proving popular enough, they stayed, and the show morphed into ‘Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields.
Crossfire 1982 – 2005 / 2013 – 2014
CNN’s first political debate show. Hosted by liberal Tom Braden and conservative Pat Buchanan, the show was a roaring success. This saw it moved from late-night to a prime time slot and had a grand run of 23 years.
Larry King Live – 1985 – 2010
Larry King Live was CNN’s most successful show in terms of longevity. The show ran for 25 years until Larry’s retirement in 2010. Larry interviewed a whole host of prominent people of the years. Including celebrities, politicians, and businesspeople.
Due to his non-confrontational interview style, Larry succeeded in landing some big names who preferred his soft but direct, frank, and often humorous style of interviews. Because of his charm, Larry King Live was the highest-rated cable show around for 16 years.
Landmark Events That Solidified CNN’s Place As a Top ‘News’ Dog
These momentous occasions were the things that put CNN on the map:
Space Shuttle Challenger explosion
CNN was the only network providing live broadcasting of this tragic event on January 28th, 1986.
Baby Jessica’s rescue
CNN was there with live breaking news reporting after the toddler had fallen down a Texas well – October 14th, 1987.
Live Coverage of the Gulf War
With ten years of experience, CNN was the only network that had the capabilities to provide 24-hour coverage of the Gulf War. The three reporters and their teams opting to stay when the country was closed to the world proved to be incredibly significant.
They aired a lot of honest, raw, and real-life reporting, and it won favor with the viewers. – August 2nd, 1990 – February 28th, 1991.
First major network covering the 9/11 attacks
The story broke out on that fateful morning. Anchor Carol Lin interrupted a commercial break at 8.49 am with a live shot of one of the world towers after the plane had flown into it. – Sept 11th, 2001
CNN provided excellent live coverage of this long war. A Chief News Exec admitted that he had campaigned hard for CNN’s continued presence throughout the war with the Iraqi Government. In doing so, he kept a lot of atrocities from hitting our screens.
However, over the years was there to capture so much, that CNN’s coverage of the war was likened to ‘live coverage of the Super Bowl.’ – March 20th, 2003 – Dec 2011
So, Who Owns CNN?
It definitely gets a little bit complicated when you start digging for this answer because recently, the ownership changed hands, as recently as April 11th, 2023, that is! CNN is currently under the ownership of giant mass media conglomerate Warner Bros. Discovery.
How Warner got it is super interesting in itself, so let’s explore the historically complicated road of how WBD’s ownership of CNN came to be.
Warner and TBS partner up…
When CNN was first created in 1980, it was owned by its main co-founders. Yup, you guessed it, Turner Broadcasting System, owned by the brilliant Ted Turner. Interestingly, 18% of Turner Broadcasting System already belonged to (then named) – Warner Communications.
Warner Communications, the parent company of Warner Bros, and TBS had previously struck up a partnership. The 18% stake Warner Bros has in TBS gave Turner owners rights to all the WB pre-1950 film library for screening on his existing channels.
The feud between the studios!
After facing some financial difficulties in the late 80s, Warner Communications completed a merger with Times Inc. They had some initial setbacks, namely Paramount Communications (then Gulf & Western). Who tried their darndest to stop the merger between the two giants and acquire Times Inc for themselves. The deal was completed on January 10th, 1990. This company then morphed into Time Warner.
On October 10th, 1996, Ted sold his company TBS, along with the CNN channel, to Time Warner for a cool $7.5 billion. After years of trying and failing to obtain his own television network, Turner stated, “I’m tired of being little for my whole life. This is a chance to see the world from a different perspective.”
First of it
Time Warner kept its name and ownership of CNN for the next 28 years, despite spinning off the Time Inc corporation in 2014. It changed again after the AT&T acquisition in 2018, which saw Time Warner bought for $85.4 billion and now a subsidiary of AT&T, with its name promptly changed to Warner Media.
CNN was a product of Warner Media, which existed through AT&T for the next three years until AT&T announced its departure from the entertainment business. Warner Media and, consequently, CNN were sold off as a merger with Discovery Inc., home to the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and The Learning Channel.
Welcome, Warner Bros Discovery!
This created a new merger and, therefore, company – Warner Bros Discovery. All happened in April 2023. So, therefore, CNN is currently owned by this newly existing amassed media and entertainment powerhouse, Warner Bros. Discovery.
Let’s Keep The “Who Owns” Info Coming!
Finally, why not take a look at our guides on Who Owns Popeyes, Who Owns Dr. Pepper, my personal favorite, Who Owns Hershey, as well as Who Owns The Jordan Brand, and Who Owns Subaru, if you love your motors!
Who Owns CNN – Final Thoughts
Blazing a new era with the concept of 24-hour news broadcasting, CNN has been an innovator during its 42 years on our screens. The first of its kind for providing live broadcasting of varied programs in the political and economic sectors.
CNN’s reach extends to four different cable and satellite TV networks, as well as six websites (a huge online following with its main website CNN.com,) two radio networks, and two private place-based networks. CNN can be viewed in over 200 countries and territories around the world.
Read more: How to Become a Politician
Keeping its core integrity…
It has changed hands in terms of ownership a few times since its inception. However, despite the implementation of new technologies and evolving with the times over the years. It seems whoever is overseeing CNN appreciates that they deliver good news based on the truth, keeping this as the core integrity of the channel.
So, sit, relax and enjoy hours of great entertainment!