Ted Turner, the mercurial media visionary who founded CNN, said on Friday that he wouldn't seek re-election to the board of Time Warner Inc.
Turner, who is 67, became a director of Time Warner in 1996 when the media conglomerate bought his cable networks company Turner Broadcasting Systems, and he has long held a prominent role in guiding the company's affairs.
In recent years, though, Turner has been spending more time on his various philanthropic efforts and other activities, which include the Turner Foundation, an environmental group, and overseeing his large land holdings, which at 680,000 hectares make him the largest individual property owner in the US.
Turner also oversees the United Nations Foundation, which he started with a US$1 billion donation to the UN in 1997, and co-chairs the Nuclear Threat Initiative with former US senator Sam Nunn of Georgia. He also owns a rapidly expanding restaurant chain called Ted's Montana Grill, which specializes in serving bison meat.
Phillip Evans, a spokesman for Turner Enterprises, Turner's private holding company, said that Turner has "indicated for some time that he's wanted to refocus his energies on activities outside Time Warner."
After initially embracing the company's ill-fated merger with America Online in 2000, Turner later became disillusioned and complained publicly about being pushed aside in the company's hierarchy. In 2003, he relinquished his role as vice chairman.
Turner, whose bold pronouncements earned him the moniker "The Mouth of the South," has occasionally embarrassed Time Warner in the past, complaining that former CEO Gerald Levin had "fired" him and railing against media consolidation in an article in the Washington Monthly magazine called "My Beef With Big Media."
Turner said in a prepared statement that he was departing after "much deliberation" and wished the company "every success."
Turner still owns 32 million shares of Time Warner stock, less than 1 percent of the company's outstanding shares.
Time Warner also announced that Carla Hills, a former US trade representative, will step down from the board in accordance with the company's retirement policy, which requires directors to retire after they turn 72.
Last month, former AOL executive Miles Gilburne also said he would not seek re-election, leaving Time Warner with at least three spots to fill on its board at its annual company meeting.