Special election produces new Congressional broadcaster


When Bob Turner (R-NY) scored a 54%-46% upset victory for the US House seat vacated by Anthony Weiner, it put more than just one more Republican in the chamber – it added a long-time television executive to the list of broadcasters in Congress.

The most prominent broadcaster at the moment is generally considered to be Greg Walden (R-OR). Walden figures to remain the most prominent for some time, as far as that goes – he is Chairman of the all-important Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, as well as being a member of House leadership circles – but Turner will add a another broadcast voice, and gives the television side of the broadcast business a champion. He also has experience in the advertising business.

Turner defeated Democrat David Welprin to take the seat in a strongly Democratic district.

We’ll let Turner describe his television experience in his own terms. The quotes come from his campaign website biography.

“Bob spent 40 years of his career in the highly competitive television industry. As President, CEO or Chairman, Bob has started up and managed companies large and small. While his family life was centered on the Ninth District, Bob’s career took him around the globe as he conducted business and formed programming partnerships  in places from Tbilisi to Delhi, Manila to Moscow.”

The story continues: “Bob was President and Chief Executive Officer of Pearson PLC’s North American television operations and special adviser to the London-based company after its acquisition of All American Communications. Bob’s task at Pearson was the integration of the U.S. unit into the larger international company and setting strategies to grow the television company into the future. In accomplishing this, he reorganized and redirected many of the company’s larger assets, including Baywatch ($1 billion in total revenues) and launched new programs from the company’s library of formats including Family Feud and To Tell the Truth which are still in production.

“Bob arrived at Pearson when his second start-up, Orbis Entertainment was acquired by Pearson. Orbis Entertainment’s business was the export of talk show formats to the European marketplace where he was successful in launching six television talk shows in two years.

“Prior to Pearson, Bob served for five years as President and CEO of Multimedia Entertainment, a division of the media conglomerate of newspapers, television stations, cable systems and television programming, Multimedia, Inc. As CEO of the entertainment division, Bob oversaw the hit television programs, The Phil Donahue Show ($85 million in annual revenues), The Sally Jesse Raphael Show ($45 million), The Jerry Springer Show, ($50 million) and also established a successful television motion picture company. Turner was also one of the five-member corporate team that organized and executed the sale of Multimedia to Gannett Corporation for $2.1 billion.

“Before Multimedia, Bob created and ran his first start-up, Orbis Communications, which distributed advertiser-supported programming for a variety of large advertisers, including Proctor and Gamble. For P&G, he acquired the Time-Life movie library of 212 titles and created the P&G Movie Network which generated more than $90 million annually. For Orbis, Bob also created the advertising sales company IAS which sold the national advertising for programs produced by Columbia Television and 20th Century Fox Television. Four years after its creation, Turner sold Orbis Communications to Carolco Pictures where he continued as President until he left to join Multimedia.

“Bob also served as President of LBS Communications, a division of Grey Advertising. At LBS, he acquired the Columbia Television network property, Family, which had never before been distributed in syndication and created a daytime barter network for the series, generating $40 million over three years. Bob then followed a similar model and created a barter network for new episodes the MGM show, Fame, generating $70 million over four years.

“In perhaps his biggest success in creating value in the television marketplace, as Director of Advertising for Bristol-Myers Company, Bob commissioned the production of the Leonard Nimoy series, In Search Of, which became a major advertising vehicle for Bristol-Myers and eventually reached 144 episodes. To-date, on an initial investment of $15 million, In Search Of has generated more than $200 million.

“Bob was also the first General Manager of CBS Cable.

“Bob Turner has served on many industry boards and committees, including the Board of Directors of the National Association of Television Programming Executives (NATPE), the television committee of the Association of National Advertisers, the Board of the Advertising Research Council, and was a founder and the first president of the Association of Syndicated Television Advertisers.”