NEW YORK, JULY 24 -- Cable TV magnate Ted Turner, as expected, today named former Los Angeles Times publisher Tom Johnson as the new president of his Cable News Network, effective Aug. 1. He will succeed Burt Reinhardt, CNN's president since 1982, who has been with the network since its start 10 years ago.
Calling himself "a strong champion of hard news," Johnson said he will try to expand CNN's overseas bureaus, but plans no sweeping changes at CNN. "I am not a believer in Saturday night massacres. I believe in working with the people who are in place."
He also will serve as Turner Broadcasting System's vice president for news and as a member of TBS's executive committee. He will report directly to Turner.
Johnson, who joined the Times in 1977 and last year lost a bid to become chief executive of the parent Times Mirror Co., said he'd first spoken with Turner about the new job less than a month ago. Turner said they were introduced by a mutual friend.
Turner, chairman of Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting System, and Johnson spoke at a telephone news conference from Seattle, site of the Goodwill Games sports festival that TBS is sponsoring.
Turner said he made the change because Reinhardt is 70 "and everybody's got to retire some time."
He emphasized that he has no plans to sell CNN or "to merge or jointly gather news with any other U.S. news organizations."
Johnson, a former White House fellow, was President Johnson's special assistant in 1968. He was the Times's publisher for nine years until succeeded last August by David Laventhol, president of Times Mirror Co.
Johnson said he's leaving the Times because "quite frankly, it was time for a change. ... I'm looking forward to getting back to running a media organization.
"I feel much more comfortable in a quarterback role than I do a coaching role," he said.