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Cable Entrepreneur Bill Turner Dies

Cable veteran and Wisdom TV founder William "Bill" Turner died last week after a lengthy bout with cancer.

Turner, 76, started one of the first cable systems in the country in 1951 in Welch, W.Va. He eventually expanded his business to include three more systems in the Bluefield, W.Va., area.

"The idea of putting an antenna on a mountain or tower to pick up signals and hooking everyone up to cable sounded like the way to go," Turner said in an interview with Multichannel News
last November.

In 1997, Turner launched Wisdom TV, part of Wisdom Media Group. The network, with programming focused on the alternative health and self-improvement industry, is currently in 3 million homes, mostly through Dish Network and C-band satellite services.

Turner said he created Wisdom to serve the burgeoning life-improvement industry, which generates $230 billion to $500 billion worldwide.

"It's the kind of programming that every human being needs to learn how to cope and get along with each other and create kindness in the world," he said.

Wisdom Media Group CEO Cynthia Sheets, who has been handling network operations along with former NAMIC president Joseph Lawson and others, said Turner would be missed.

"He was an inspirational man and we are dedicated to keeping his dream alive and ensuring people around the world gain access to Wisdom and the programming Bill was so devoted to sharing," she said. "His legacy is firmly in place and will be the inspiration behind Wisdom's continued success."

Prior to Wisdom, Turner developed TurnerVision Inc., a C-band programming and marketing company. In 1998, TurnerVision began a joint venture with Superstar/Netlink, now owned by Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc., creating one of the largest programming services in the C-band industry.

While a cable operator, Turner served on the National Cable Television Association's board of directors. He also was a past president of the West Virginia Cable Association.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.