In Depth

Turner Broadcasting System: Turner Classic Movies

Turner Classic Movies celebrated 15 years on the air April 14, a scant two weeks after the announcement the network was being honored with a Peabody Award as a haven for film fans.

“It’s a wonderful network, this dedicated presenter and preserver of vintage films, and … no other in the cable spectrum has stayed truer to its original mission,” the Peabody board said.

“It’s like getting the Pulitzer Prize in journalism, and what I think is so wonderful is that the entire channel was acknowledged,” said longtime TCM host Robert Osborne. “I loved them saying we received it for our presentation and for staying true to our original idea. I’m very proud of the channel and it is important when you’ve got something good like that going that you are able to stay true to your original aims. We have done that.”

TCM has always had a single mission: to present classic films in their original format, uncut and commercial-free. “TCM is important because of what is happening on television today with some of the programming that is out there. For a lot of people, TCM becomes like an oasis,” said Mr. Osborne. “If you check out TCM, nine times out of 10 it’s something you will want to watch, and you can watch with the whole family because most of the movies made in those days were for everyone.”

In today’s economic times, remaining commercial-free hasn’t been easy, but TCM programmers believe strongly in presenting films as they were originally seen in theaters. “We’re trying very hard to stick to that. A movie is constructed with a certain rhythm, particularly when you get into something like the Hitchcock catalog,” said Mr. Osborne. “His movies have a mood to them that is destroyed if you cut them up for TV. You lose the suspense.”

TCM also has been at the forefront of finding rarely seen gems and preserving them. “The watch guards at TCM are pretty strict,” said Mr. Osborne. “We have wonderful people who love movies and treat them like they’re children, so they don’t want anything mucked around with. I’m very glad they have that kind of mindset. I love when we find movies that haven’t been shown much on TV.”

“Our programming department is wonderful about licensing movies we don’t own to give a new look to the channel every month,” he added. “It’s not just the same films every month. There are fresh titles all the time.”