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Courting the bottom line; Robert Turner

“As president of the company my responsibilities are profit and loss. As everything affects that, I become involved.” Robert Turner’s company is Multimedia Entertainment, producers and syndicators of “Donahue,””Sally Jessy Raphael,””Jerry Springer” and “Rush Limbaugh, the Television Show.”

“I certainly see the market as far more competitive, but in response to that competition the talkshows are changing. Far more has to be put into the production. More demands are made by the viewers.

“All of our shows operated in the black in ’93,” Turner notes. But faced with an increasingly competitive American market, Multimedia is now exporting its expertise in talkshows abroad.

“By the end of ’94 (working with foreign partners and co-producers) we expect to have more than a half dozen talkshows on the air internationally as continuing series.”

Although Turner declines to spot the specific countries — England, France, Germany and Italy are acknowledged as safe speculations — Multimedia is currently working in “over 10 territories” producing pilots with local talent. “There isn’t a place that isn’t right for this,” Turner insists.

Multimedia is also launching an all-talk, 24-hour cable channel in the fall. “It will feature many of the elements that viewers are accustomed to in their broadcasting fare, but the topics will be generated by the news of the day.”

Is there a market for 500 channels? “No, but we already know there seems to be a market for about 50. And whether that can be expanded to 60, 70, 80 or a 100, I think we’ll find out a channel at a time.”

Turner, 52, has been president of Multimedia for two years. He co-founded Orbis Communications, producing movies for network and cable. Orbis merged with Carolco Pictures seven years ago.

After graduating from St. John’s University in the early ’60s, he began in TV as an account rep with ABC.

“All television property is of a finite nature,” says Turner. “Management’s responsibility is to see that it is refreshed and replenished.”

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