Cable Center Gives Ted Turner Bresnan Ethics in Business Award

Ted Turner
Ted Turner (Image credit: CNN)

The Cable Center said Tuesday that it has named cable icon Ted Turner as the recipient of the 2020 Bresnan Ethics in Business Award. The award will be presented at the Center’s 23rd annual Cable Hall of Fame celebration, scheduled for April 29, 2021, at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York.

An entrepreneur, philanthropist, sportsman, and environmentalist, Turner founded CNN, the first 24-hour cable news channel and TBS, the nation’s first “superstation” using satellite technology to carry its signal nationwide. Through Turner Broadcasting, he also purchased the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball team (now owned by Liberty Media) and the Atlanta Hawks professional basketball team (now owned by Apollo Global Management co-founder Tony Wessler). Throughout his career, Turner also launched Cartoon Network, TNT, Turner Classic Movies and served as vice chairman of AOL Time Warner.

“Ted is a true industry trailblazer and his commitment to humanitarian, conservation and environmental causes is incomparable,” The Cable Center CEO Jana Henthorn said in a press release. “We are delighted to honor him with this year’s Bresnan Award.”

A noted philanthropist, Turner has given to many causes but is probably best known for his $1 billion donation to establish the United Nations Foundation to support humanitarian work around the world. He also created the Nuclear Threat Initiative, which sought to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction, and has provided extensive funding to conservation efforts through his Turner Foundation. He launched the charitable Goodwill Games and also signed The Giving Pledge, committing more than half his wealth to good deeds.

“Ted’s passion for the cable industry and his commitment to philanthropy is at the core of the Bresnan Award,” said Michael Willner president and CEO of Penthera Partners and chairman of The Cable Center’s Board of Directors in a press release. “His entrepreneurial aptitude helped to form our industry and his dedication and support of numerous philanthropic and environmental causes is extraordinarily generous and unprecedented. We are honored to recognize him with this year’s Bresnan Award.”

The Bresnan Ethics in Business award was created in 2011 to honor outstanding men and women in the cable industry who best exemplify Bresnan Communications founder and longtime Cable Center chairman Bill Bresnan’s longstanding commitment to ethics in business. Awardees represent the ideals upheld by Bill Bresnan, including continually demonstrating ethical leadership qualities, doing what’s right in the face of adversity, even when it is unpopular, incorporating doing what’s right in everyday life, and demonstrating societal, community, and philanthropic engagement.

“It is an incredible honor to be recognized for accomplishments that were considered by many as genius and maybe a bit outrageous. Creating CNN, pretty much against all odds and with the support of my fellow cable pioneers, was a mission of pure joy and determination, surpassed only by my work and dedication to conservation and the environment,” Turner said in a press release. “Bill was a good guy, and I admired him for his integrity and good works that he upheld through every aspect of his life. My time in the cable industry was a big adventure and I treasure the lifelong friendships I made. I am humbled to receive this year’s Bresnan Award.” 

Turner was inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame in 1999, the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 2007 and has received a Peabody Award and the Bower Award for Business Leadership from the Franklin Institute. An endowed professorship at the George Washington University’s (GW) School of Media and Public Affairs is also being established in his honor, as well as the creation of the Ted Turner Exhibition Hall and Legacy Gallery at the University of Georgia.

Past recipients include former Continental Cablevision founder Amos B. Hostetter, Jr., former National Cable & Telecommunications CEO and Landmark Communications president Decker Anstrom; former CableVision Industries chief Alan Gerry; C-SPAN founder Brian  Lamb and NCTA executive June Travis. Last year’s winner was the late James Robbins, former CEO of Cox Communications. 

In December, WarnerMedia (which owns CNN) dedicated the news network’s Techwood Campus in Georgia to Turner, who a year prior told 60 Minutes he was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia.