They all laughed. Ted was a newcomer from the south, with limited resources or clout. Yet, he had the audacity to presume that he knew better how to restructure and lead a legacy institution. Didn’t he understand the way things worked?
How could Ted — Ted Turner — possibly leverage his tiny forty million dollar company to acquire media giant CBS with a net worth of more than $1.5 billion?
But this was June 1985, and Ted had an idea. Turner understood — and was happy to tell all who listened — that the terrestrial broadcasting paradigm of the past 50 years was over, and revenues would have to come from new streams. He proposed that, upon acquisition of CBS, he would raise the necessary purchase funds by pre-selling parts of the company and issuing high yield bonds, the newly-popular debt instrument which scoffers called “junk.”
But the big boys would have none of it. Ted had already humiliated them a few years previously by starting a then-revolutionary cable channel called CNN. This Atlanta-based success particularly stung the media barons because they possessed far greater resources to launch an all news channel — but they hadn’t.