Corporate eyebrows hit hairlines in Atlanta, USA, last week when Ted Turner, media magnate and founder of CNN (Cable News Network) slammed current owner Time Warner for its 'dumbing down' of the respected news channel.

CNN management is neglecting "serious news" in favour of too many "pervert of the day" stories, accused Turner when addressing staff at the channel's 25th birthday celebrations.

"I would like to see us return to a little more international coverage on the domestic feed and a little more environmental coverage, and, maybe, maybe a little less of the pervert of the day," he said.

"You know we have a lot of perverts on today and I know that. But is that really news? I mean, come on. I guess you've got to cover Michael Jackson, but not three stories about perversion that we do every day as well."

CNN has lost viewers to Rupert Murdoch's populist rightwing Fox News - for which peddling triviality is second nature - and Turner conceded that even under his rule, CNN was not above similar barrel-scraping.

"We followed O J Simpson around LA a lot and we had Jessica in the well [an 18-month old baby rescued from a well in 1987]. It was pretty trivial, but high interest," he admitted. But Turner, who no longer has links with CNN, argued that there is a need for a "serious news person" on American TV.

"Somebody's got to be the most respected name in television news and I wanted that position for CNN. I wanted to be the New York Times of the airwaves - not the [Murdoch-owned] New York Post, but the New York Times. And that's what we set out to do and we did it".

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff