By Katherine Green
The National Academy of Arts & Sciences (NATAS) is honouring iconic media visionary Ted Turner with the Lifetime Achievement Award at Monday’s 36th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards.
The ceremony at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln’s Center will be attended by 1,400 of Turner’s peers and contemporaries in the news media and television industry.
Turner’s nomination for the award, which seeks to recognize a person of the highest standing in the field of news broadcast and documentary, signifies a return to the spotlight after the media mogul took a widely publicized leave from the industry giant Time Warner Inc., back in 2007.
The return to the stage allows Turner, notably known in the industry as the “Mouth of the South,” a long-awaited chance to remind his audience of executives, broadcasters, producers, journalists and television personalities who originated cable news network as we know it today.
The Lifetime Achievement award will cap off an evening of celebrating 45 categories of excellence in News and Documentary.
Turner’s entrepreneurial and philanthropic accomplishments have propelled him to the illustrious short list of former recipients like documentarian Ken Burns, TV personality Barbara Walters, and former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite.
Turner is being celebrated on Monday, above all, for his contribution to the creation of the first cable news broadcast model.
Toronto-based broadcast journalist and former CBC radio host Andy Barrie said the famed creator of CNN revolutionized the way consumers accessed, watched and consumed news nearly four decades ago.
“(Ted) was the beginning of the basic model we use today in broadcast,” said Barrie.
“The earlier model was based on scarcity. There was only so much room on radio dials and television channels … [Turner] went around the whole idea that broadcast was channeled through the air and limited.”
“He had the vision to give everyone what they wanted and they didn’t know they wanted it till they got it.”
Barrie said that Turner and his Canadian counterpart Moses Znaimer were instrumental in developing broadcast channels that broke the local barriers, went beyond national audiences, and reached a 24/7 global audience.
Turner used his entrepreneurial acumen to create the future for America’s first ever “superstation.”
Not unlike his print media contemporary, Rupert Murdoch, Turner built an empire by flooding the news consumer market with his unique product.
It felt like “there was not a single place in the world that you couldn’t fly to and turn on the television and see this Atlanta, Georgia station,” said Barrie.
“CNN is the international language of communication in news, and Turner made that happen.”
The 36th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards will showcase the best talent and news coverage that major and small local networks have to offer.
PBS, CBS and ABC lead with the most nominations, however popular newcomers Frontline and Vice Media will be recognized for their coverage of the Ebola outbreak, as well as the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.