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Friday, 22 December, 2000, 13:11 GMT
Ted Turner: UN saviour?
Ted Turner, and Jane Fonda
Ted Turner and his estranged wife Jane Fonda
By BBC News Online's Tarik Kafala

Ted Turner, the US media mogul and founder of international news organisation CNN, appears to have stumped up another big donation to the United Nations.

According to officials in Washington, Mr Turner is prepared to personally pay the $34m shortfall between what the US owes and what Congress is willing to authorise.

In 1997 Mr Turner set up a $1bn UN foundation, the biggest private gift the UN had ever received. The foundation administers a $100m donation every year over 10 years.

The donation was widely seen as a vote of confidence in the UN's future by one of the world's leading businessmen and opinion makers.

UN donations

Part of the fund's money is being used to improve the American public's understanding of the UN.

Ted Turner timeline
1938: Born in Cincinnati
1977: Won the America's Cup
1980: Founded CNN
1991: Married Jane Fonda
1996: Joined Time Warner
1997: $1bn donation to the UN
The money is also being spent on projects related to women, the environment and children's health.

The foundation announced in December 2000 that it had earmarked $12m for fighting Aids through various UN agencies, and $1.6m to programmes to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.

To date the Turner foundation has donated $325m to UN projects.

Saving the world?

Back in 1997, there was a great deal of speculation over Mr Turner's motives - most of it cynical.

Some said Mr Turner was trying to carve himself a place in history as one of the great philanthropists.

As an international organisation in financial difficulties, the UN - some suggested - suited Mr Turners self-image as a leading international figure.

Others joked about UN treaties signed on CNN headed paper, or UN soldiers wearing "sponsored by CNN" uniforms.

There were also suggestions that Mr Turner might even benefit personally from the donation in tax write-offs.

Glittering career

The 62-year-old Mr Turner used a small inherited business, a billboard advertising company, as a springboard to a massive media, sport and business empire.

He then founded the WTBS TV station in 1976 and built it into the Turner Broadcasting System.

He pioneered what is know in the US as the "supersation" system, whereby a single channel uses satellite technology to transmit into a number of local cable TV systems.

CNN - the world's first 24-hour television news channel - was founded in 1980.

In 1996 the Turner Broadcasting System merged with the Time Warner media group, making Mr Turner deputy chairman of Time Warner.

He also owns the Atlanta Braves baseball team and Atlanta Hawks basketball team.

As a sideline, Mr Turner captained the winning yacht in the America's Cup, one of the yachting world' s most prestigious races.

He married actress Jane Fonda in 1991, though they announced their separation, but not divorce, in January 2000.

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21 Jan 00 | Americas
US senator berates UN
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