Turner plans an all-cartoon cable channel

LOS ANGELES -- All toons, all the time.

That could be the slogan for Turner Broadcasting System's planned Cartoon Network, a round-the-clock basic cable service announced in Atlanta on yesterday by Ted Turner.


An Oct. 1 debut has been set for the channel, which would be Mr. Turner's fifth on basic cable following TBS, Cable News Network, CNN Headline News and TNT.

"Nobody we've talked to doesn't think this is a great idea," Mr. Turner told reporters during a telephone news conference from CNN headquarters.


He said the Cartoon Network was made possible by TBS' recent $320 million acquisition of Hanna-Barbera Productions, the Universal City animation house that created Yogi Bear, the Flintstones, the Jetsons and other familiar cartoon characters.

Although rights to some Hanna Barbera cartoons are tied up, the service eventually will be able to draw from a library of more than 3,000 half-hours as well as 800 half-hours of Tom & Jerry, Popeye and other cartoons acquired in the 1985 purchase of MGM.

Mr. Turner admitted he was announcing the new service without up-front commitments from cable operators, many of whom have limited channel capacity and may be reluctant to add an additional basic service in a poor economy.

But since Mr. Turner now either owns or controls the programming, start-up costs for the new service would be limited and a large subscriber base was not required in the Cartoon Network's business plan.

TBS also expects to market the service successfully overseas because cartoons translate well.

Scott Sassa, president of Turner Entertainment Networks, said one popular misconception about cartoons was that there are already lots of them on TV, including several hours a day on other TBS networks.

However, Mr. Sassa said, there are virtually no cartoons on during the peak kiddie viewing hours of 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Although TBS already has begun discussions with major children's advertisers, significant numbers of adults are expected to tune in. For example, "The Flintstones" and "Johnny Quest" have large baby-boom followings and probably will be shown at night.


TBS, which through Hanna-Barbera owns animation studios in Taiwan and Manila and has an interest in a Polish animation facility, expects to continue producing cartoons which will eventually be shown on the Cartoon Network.