Culture and Recreation

Radio and Television

How did CNN change television news?

When Ted Turner’s Cable News Network (CNN) went on the air June 1, 1980, it was amid a fair amount of skepticism. Some thought the maverick businessman was ill advised to air news around the clock to cable television subscribers. History would soon prove Turner’s detractors wrong.

Twenty-four hours of air time brought CNN something other news entities didn’t have—the time to do more stories and more in-depth news stories. The American public embraced the concept and soon began to rely on CNN not only to provide more information than other TV news sources, but for breaking news and up-to-the minute updates on top stories. In 1991, during the CNN coverage of the Persian Gulf War (which CNN had more or less aired live), newspapers reported a phenomenon—Americans couldn’t turn the news station off.

Gone were the days of planning dinner around the evening network news or waiting until 11:00 P.M. to learn the latest. CNN and its sister station, Headline News Network were news at-the-ready. At a time when the term “global marketplace” was quickly becoming part of the vocabulary of every working American, CNN was uniquely able to capitalize on the growing sensibility of a world community. In 1985 CNN International was launched as a 24-hour global news service. At first reaching only to England, by 1989 the signal was beamed via satellite to Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

CNN has continued to evolve its programming to cover news in every area of endeavor with programs such as Business Day, Larry King Live, World Today, and Science and Technology Week, proving that the concept has staying power. The network, which began turning a profit after five years, has picked up multiple journalism awards, including the coveted Peabody Award. One of the early harbingers of CNN’s success came in April 1982 when CNN won the right to be on equal footing with the major network news organizations in the White House press pool.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy History Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App