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Ted Turner Vows to Squash Murdoch CNN Challenge ‘Like a Bug’

November 30, 1995 GMT

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) _ Ted Turner said Wednesday he will squash `like a bug″ an all-news TV network Media magnate Rupert Murdoch plans to launch to compete with Turner’s 24-hour Cable News Network.

Turner said he welcomed the competition, but noted others _ including Westinghouse and ABC together _ have unsuccessfully challenged CNN during its 15 years of operation.

``I’m looking forward to squishing Rupert like a bug,″ Turner said. He made his remarks at a panel discussion that opened cable TV’s annual Western Show convention.

Murdoch, in announcing plans Tuesday to start a 24-hour news network to compete with the CNN, claimed CNN was becoming too liberal and needled Turner about his marriage to Jane Fonda and about mental health.

``I don’t know whether it happened with my friend Ted marrying Jane Fonda or giving up lithium, but one thing or another, (CNN) has changed very greatly in the last couple of years,″ Murdoch said.

Although Turner himself is uniting Turner Broadcasting System Inc. with Time-Warner Inc., he lamented the corporate monoliths being created by the current merger mania.

``I do not think it’s all good. I do not like to see less and less entities out there,″ he said.

``It would be a very, very sad day if we jut had four or five great big companies controlling all the programming and all the pipelines in the country.″

But other panelists were optimistic about what changes in technology and business will bring.

Brian L. Roberts, president of Comcast Corp., said he expects the race with other industries to provide computer and phone services as well as TV programming will spur cable companies to healthy competition.

Barry Diller, the Home Shopping Network chairman who is trying to build a new TV network from scratch, argued that creativity will not be stifled.

``Anybody with a good idea or good projects is going to get air somewhere,″ Diller said.

Cable TV helped brought a chorus of voices to the American media scene once dominated by three broadcast networks and a handful of movie companies, Diller said.

``Now, more than ever, you can reach almost everybody,″ he said. ``What a great time to be involved ... in the media communications business.″

Actor-director Redford, who is launching his Sundance Film Channel in early 1996, said the cable TV venture affords an ``incredible opportunity″ to showcase independent films and bring cultural diversity to audiences.

The Western Show, which continues through Friday, has drawn more than 20,000 attendees and 300 exhibitors. New technology, channels and competitive issues facing the industry were the planned focus.