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Atlanta’s Media Giant
Philip Kent was named to his current role in February 2003. From August 2000 to August 2001, he served as President and Chief Operating Officer of CNN News Group. Kent’s career at TBS, Inc. also includes broad international experience as President of Turner Broadcasting System International (TBSI). Before this, he was President of Turner Home Entertainment. Kent joined Turner in March 1993, following six years with Creative Artists Agency (CAA) as a packaging agent in that company’s television department. In 1981, he helped launch Blair Entertainment, the television syndication division of John Blair & Co., where he began his career. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in economics at Lehigh University. In 2007, he was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame.
A Time Warner company, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (TBS, Inc.; www.turner.com) creates and programs branded news, entertainment, animation, and young adult media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, TBS, Inc. employs some 11,000 people worldwide. TBS, Inc.’s groundbreaking network is CNN, but the company is also home to entertainment networks such as TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies, Adult Swim, and truTV.
Would you provide an overview of Turner Broadcasting System and the leading networks that are part of the organization?
Turner operates more than 130 branded channels in 30 languages in more than 200 countries. The company’s brands and businesses include CNN/U.S., HLN, CNN International, CNN.com; TBS, TNT, Turner Classic Movies, truTV, Turner Sports, Cartoon Network, and Adult Swim.
Turner Broadcasting System is a truly global brand. Would you highlight the key markets for the networks and where you see the greatest opportunities for growth?
Turner has a global footprint and two truly global brands – CNN and Cartoon Network. Our company is the number one multichannel network provider in Latin America, and we continue to grow our profile and revenue there, particularly in Brazil and Mexico. We see growth opportunity for our brands in Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. We’re bullish on India, where we’ve been investing for more than 20 years. And recently, we acquired a media business in the Nordic region and continue to build our presence in Japan, most recently with the acquisition of two more entertainment networks.
Turner Broadcasting System places a major emphasis on diversity and inclusion. How important is this to the culture of the company and would you highlight your efforts in this regard?
Our company’s efforts in the area of diversity and inclusion have earned us attention as an innovator, which is gratifying but not the point. For companies expecting to compete and succeed in a fundamentally changing world, embracing diversity as an action, as opposed to an idea, is a matter of business survival.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has been very direct in addressing Atlanta’s challenges and positioning the city for future growth. Are you happy with the public/private partnership in Atlanta?
Mayor Reed and the business community have a common interest in the continued health and well-being of Atlanta. We share a vision in which the interests of business, the arts, education, and government advance and enhance one another, where the public and private sectors view one another’s agendas as mutually inclusive, and where collaboration and partnership are the rule, not the exception. Atlanta has momentum, energy, resources, and no shortage of people in government and in business who are committed to ensuring that our vision is a reality.
Would you highlight some of your work as a leader in CSR in Atlanta?
Atlanta is Turner Broadcasting’s hometown and its corporate headquarters for all of its 41 years. We feel a responsibility to the communities in which we operate and to the consumers responsible for our success. Our corporate giving includes grants, in-kind support, board service, and wide-ranging community involvement. I am most proud of our annual day of hands-on service in Turner cities around the world. We mobilize literally thousands of Turner volunteers to do everything from painting and planting to tutoring kids and visiting with elderly people. It’s some of the best and more important work we do all year.
While your time is pulled in many different directions, you devote a great deal of your energy and resources to organizations in Atlanta. How critical is this work to you and was the notion of giving back instilled in you early on?
I consider involvement in and service to the Atlanta community part of my job for a number of reasons: our company’s longevity here, the size and scope of our employee base living and working in Atlanta, and the unique nature of our business. I enjoy being part of the local business community and working with the city and our philanthropic partners as a Turner representative. And I’m interested in the organizations I choose to serve. My priority is Turner Broadcasting, but I recognize and appreciate that our employees enjoy a sense of pride and loyalty because they work for a company that supports and invests in its local communities.
You joined Turner in 1993. Could you have imagined then that you would spend so much of your career with the company?
I don’t think any of us imagined how Turner Broadcasting would grow and what it would become. What started as a single Atlanta UHF station is today the company responsible for the first national cable television network, the Superstation, and the first 24-hour news network, CNN; ad-supported cable’s number-one network with young adults, Adult Swim, and most-watched original series of all time, The Closer on TNT; the number-one current events and global news destination on the Web, CNN.com; thriving networks and digital businesses across Latin America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific; and is an industry leader in developing and implementing innovative technology for consumer and business use.
What are your priorities for Turner Broadcasting System as you look to the future?
We are focused on serving the interests of consumers around the world and being good partners to our advertisers and distributors; on creating sustained value for our shareholders; on offering quality content, from our signature news programming to our online sports sites; on fostering a professional environment in which creative, motivated people can do their best work; on being a good neighbor in and to our communities; and on furthering and celebrating the spirit of audacity and possibility that our company was built on, and that informs our course going forward.•