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When Ted Turner launched CNN in 1980, he promised viewers that the cable news network would truly be on 24 hours a day. “Barring satellite problems, we won’t be signing off until the world ends,” repeated Turner in an interview with Wolf Blitzer in 2013. He even reportedly prepared a final video clip to play on the day the world ended.
Jalopnik writer Michael Ballaban on Monday published this video segment, which is apparently titled “TURNER DOOMSDAY VIDEO” and includes a restriction instructing users to hold for release until the end of the world is confirmed.
Ballaban said he saw the video as an intern at CNN in 2009 when he worked on The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer. A rep for the network did not yet respond to request for comment from THR.
“We’ll be on, and we will cover the end of the world, live, and that will be our last event,” Turner once said, according to Jalopnik. “We’ll play the National Anthem only one time, on the first of June [the day CNN launched], and when the end of the world comes, we’ll play ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee’ before we sign off.”
Read more Candy Crowley Leaving CNN
In 1988, a New Yorker article talked about the signoff tape’s existence, quoting Turner’s explanation of how it came to be. “Normally, when a TV station begins & ends the broadcast day, it signs on & off by playing the National Anthem,” he said. “But with CNN — a 24-hour-a day channel — we would only sign off once & I knew what that would mean. So we got the combined Armed Forces marching bands together — the Army, Navy, Marine & Air Force bands — & took them out to the old CNN headquarters & we had them practice the National Anthem for a videotaping. Then, as things cranked up, I asked if they’d play ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee’ to put on videotape just in case the world ever came to an end. That would be the last thing CNN played before we — before we signed off.”
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