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Column: Atlanta’s Cartoon Network celebrates 20th anniversary

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Sept. 28, 2012

When Atlanta media visionary Ted Turner decided to create a cable channel that would air just cartoons, he was ridiculed.

But on Oct. 1, the Cartoon Network will celebrate its 20th anniversary, and Turner Broadcasting System is having the last laugh.

“We are a network that has fantastic momentum,” said Stuart Snyder, president of the Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. “We are just completing our third quarter — the most watched quarter in our history in prime time.”

It actually ranks No. 1 across all television among boys 6 to 14.
When Cartoon Network was launched, it reached 2 million households. Today it reaches 367 million households, of which 100 million are in the United States. It is in 178 countries and offered in 26 different languages.

And after 20 years on cable, Snyder can truthfully say: “We have kids who have grown up with us.” To celebrate its 20-year history, there will be a celebratory event at the Cartoon Network’s home on the Techwood campus where 1,000 employees will join in for an 11 a.m. tribute.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will present the Phoenix Award honoring the Cartoon Network’s contributions to television and the community. Phil Kent, chairman and CEO of Turner Broadcasting, will be on hand.

Snyder, who has been at the helm since 2007, said that both the Cartoon Network and Adult Swim are enjoying solid growth.

“On the Cartoon Network side, when I came on board, it really was to return Cartoon Network to a place of growth with kid shows and global brands,” Snyder said. “I’m pleased our audience has responded well.”

Looking towards the next 20 years, Snyder said digital will set the stage as more kids will access programs through different kinds of technology, such as smart phones. The goal will be to continue to build a global franchise with well-known brands. And the key will be innovation.

“In the summer, we started to stream our network live digitally,” Snyder said, adding that the network is becoming more interactive with its audiences.

Meanwhile, Snyder said Cartoon Network has a social responsibility to give back to the community. It has promoted the “Stop Bullying; Speak Up” campaign. It also has become part of the “Move It Movement” to encourage children to exercise.

Deal praises GRA

Gov. Nathan Deal, at his annual visit with the board of the Georgia Research Alliance, showed that he has become a believer in the public-private organization that brings together the state’s research universities with business leaders and government.

“You are sort of the eHarmony of scientific research,” Deal said with a smile. “Let that sink in a moment.”

Deal credited GRA and the Georgia Department of Economic Development in helping attract Baxter International Inc. to invest $1 billion in a manufacturing facility for biological medical treatments near Covington.

“Georgia has broken several of the old molds that were in place,” Deal said. “One of the molds that we have broken is the perception that Georgia was not a friendly place for bioscience. What we have to do is build on that opportunity that has been presented to us.”

Deal also recited GRA’s track record: Since 1990, the state has invested $565 million in the GRA and that has led to the investment of $2.6 billion in new non-state research funding.

“You are becoming the national model for what other states are trying to emulate,” Deal said.

GRA shuffles board

The Georgia Research Alliance has a new chairman — Clyde Tuggle, senior vice president and chief public affairs and communications officer for The Coca-Cola Co.

He succeeds Bill Linginfelter, area president of Regions Bank for Georgia and South Carolina, who has chaired the board for three years. He will remain on the board.

Doug Hertz, president and CEO of United Distributors, has been elected vice chairman; and Pete McTier, a trustee of the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, will continue as secretary and treasurer.

Three executives are leaving the board: Jim Wells, retired CEO of SunTrust Banks; William Fickling, chairman of Beech Street Managed Care Corp. in Macon; and Fred Cooper, chairman of Cooper Capital.

GRA also is adding several new members to its board: Paul Bowers, president and CEO of Georgia Power; Robert Hatcher, president and CEO of MidCountry Financial Corp. in Macon; Kelly Loeffler, vice president of investor relations and corporate communications at IntercontinentalExchange (ICE); Ken Ostrowski, a director in McKinsey & Co.’s Atlanta office; and Parker “Pete” Petit, chairman and CEO of MiMedx Group.

Serving as a one-year term representing the eminent scholars in the state is Lin Mei, a GRA eminent scholar in neuroscience at Georgia Health Sciences University.

GCEE board grows

Six new people have been added to the board of the Georgia Council on Economic Education, which helps teachers teach economics.

They are Cheryl Davenport Dozier, president of Savannah State University; Tim Hooper, managing director of Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.; William McKinney, president of Valdosta State University; Pierce Nelson, vice president for communications for the CDC Foundation; Jonathan Rosen, chairman and CEO of Entaire Global Payments Inc.; and Kevin Sledge, manager of financial services for the Prudential Insurance Company of America.

Gary Price, managing partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, will continue as GCEE’s chairman, and Marie Gooding, first vice president and COO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, is vice chair and chair-elect.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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