April 25, 2003
U.S.: Ted Turner Calls Rival Media Mogul Murdoch 'Warmonger'
Ted Turner said on Thursday too few people owned too many media organizations and called rival media baron Rupert Murdoch a warmonger for what he said was Murdoch's promotion of the U.S. war in Iraq.
By Duncan Martell
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Ted Turner said on Thursday too few people owned too many media organizations and called rival media baron Rupert Murdoch a warmonger for what he said was Murdoch's promotion of the U.S. war in Iraq (news - web sites).
"He's a warmonger," Turner said in an evening speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco of Murdoch, whose News Corp. Ltd. owns the fast-growing Fox News Channel. "He promoted it."
Fox News Channel has been the most popular U.S. cable news network during the conflict, trumping AOL Time Warner Inc.'s CNN, which Turner started more than two decades ago and came to prominence with its blanket coverage of the 1991 Gulf War (news - web sites).
Asked by an audience member for his thoughts on Fox's larger ratings share than CNN's, Turner said, "Just because your ratings are bigger doesn't mean you're better."
"It's not how big you are, it's how good you are that really counts," Turner said, drawing hoots from the audience.
Turner, who has pledged to give $1 billion to the United Nations (news - web sites) and is a vocal proponent of population control and nuclear-arms elimination, criticized the concentration of ownership of the vast majority of U.S. television networks, radio and TV stations and newspapers in a few corporations.
"The media is too concentrated, too few people own too much," Turner said.
Asked whether he would again try to launch a new network, Turner, who is the vice chairman of AOL Time Warner and has been critical of the merger of AOL and TimeWarner, said: "No. I think the space is filled with the people already there.
"There's really five companies that control 90 percent of what we read, see and hear. It's not healthy."
Earlier on Thursday, BBC Director General Greg Dyke said U.S. broadcasters' coverage of the Iraq war was so unquestioningly patriotic and so lacking in impartiality that it threatened the credibility of America's electronic media.
Dyke singled out for criticism Fox News Channel and Clear Channel Communications Inc., the largest operator of radio stations in the United States.
"Personally, I was shocked while in the United States by how unquestioning the broadcast news media was during this war," Dyke said in a speech at a University of London conference.
After Turner's initial remarks, the moderator for the question and answer session noted that Turner would not be able to comment on the ongoing federal investigations into AOL Time Warner.
The moderator had scarcely finished her statement when he leaned into the microphone and said: "I can say one thing. As the largest shareholder and the biggest shareholder (of the company), it's been brutal."
Turner said he also liked bison.
"I got 35,000 of them," Turner said in response to a question about bison. "I do eat them. You've got to eat."
The final question of the evening to Turner: What will be his epitaph.
"I have nothing more to say," Turner said. "And that's what it is."
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