Robert Edward "Ted" Turner, CNN founder and Time Warner vice chairman, announced on 18 September 1997 that he would donate $1 billion ($100 million per year in Time Warner stock) over the next decade to United Nations programs. Speaking of his gift, Turner said, "This is only going to go for programs, programs like refugees, cleaning up land mines, peacekeeping, UNICEF for the children, for diseases, and we're going to have a committee that will work with a committee of the UN so that the money can only go to UN causes." He announced that his goal was to stimulate philanthropic competition, and his grant of $1 billion was intended to raise the bar to a new level.
Starting in 1970 with a single UHF television station in Atlanta, Turner's business grew into a global colossus that included cable channels, movie studios, and professional sports teams. He started his TBS satellite superstation in 1976 and CNN in 1980. In 1996, Turner gave away $28 million, mainly to environmental causes, so the donation of $1 billion to the UN was a departure for him. Because the UN could not legally accept money from individuals, Turner created a foundation to spend the money and administer the programs, which he expected to focus on job creation, eradication of land mines, expansion of education, and research on global warming. He also became a fundraiser for the United Nations and actively sought publicity both for himself and for a number of causes, such as the environmental movement and world peace. His gift of $1 billion to support the United Nations was considered at the time the largest single donation by a private individual. By comparison, all charitable giving by Americans in 1996 was approximately $120 billion. "Few Americans," noted Newsweek, "have cut such a swath through life." Turner's donations strengthened the United Nations as a platform for the resolution of world conflicts and a commitment to international peace.