New York -- Paxson Communications Corp. is hoping to be
touched by ratings success after adding four first-run hours to its weekend Pax Net
primetime schedule and two more hours to its weekday slate in its inaugural fall season.
The fledgling venture, ostensibly a broadcast network, is
something of a hybrid, since it has recruited Tele-Communications Inc. cable systems to
fill in broadcast market gaps.
As expected, Touched by an Angel repeats will be one
of Pax Net's linchpins, but Jeff Sagansky, Paxson's president and CEO,
emphasized it will be "a lot more than a network with Touched by an Angel."
Sagansky, who helped develop Touched and Dr.
Quinn, Medicine Woman for CBS and Highway to Heaven for NBC while an executive
with those networks, said, "I don't see [more such programming] being developed
now" by the major TV networks.
On weeknights, Touched at 8 p.m. will lead into Dr.
Quinn, Medicine Woman at 9 p.m.
Pax Net's big original night will be Saturday, "a
night the other networks have mostly abandoned" when it comes to family appeal and
inspirational product, Sagansky said.
The leadoff show at 7 p.m.will be Walt DisneyWorld
Magic Hour, a George Foreman-hosted show that's been running on Disney Channel.
That will be followed by three original dramas: Little Men at 8 p.m., Flipper
at 9 p.m. and Neon Rider at 10 p.m.; the latter is set on a ranch for troubled
youths and stars an actor (William Rekert) who resembles Michael Landon.
Pax Net will add another first-run series, It's a
Miracle, on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. That reality series will be sandwiched between
movies starting at 7 p.m. and the off-network drama I'll Fly Away at 10 p.m.
Moreover, Sagansky has slated two female-skewed first-run
shows for weekday stripping -- Woman's Day TV at 2 p.m. and Great Day
America at 5 p.m. The former will be coproduced by Hachette Publications, which owns Woman's
Here, Pax Net seems to be targeting Lifetime Television,
given Hachette Publications president David Pecker's description of this series as
"empowerment TV for women."
Great Day America will try to close the day much as Good
Morning America and its ilk start it, Sagansky said.
More off-network series, namely Eight Is Enough, The
HoganFamily and Dave's World, will be bracketed by those
Though a start-up, Pax Net offers solid coverage, said Dean
Goodman, president of Pax Net Television, who told the agency buyers that its owned
stations cover all of the top 10 markets and 26 of the top 30. Paxson's chairman,
Lowell Paxson, told his upfront audience that during the weekend prior to the upfront, he
had acquired a 79th TV station, covering Pueblo/Colorado Springs, Colo.
Karen Schmidtke-Lincoln, senior vice president of national
sales, said Pax Net will launch with 72 percent of the United States. Last April, the
network estimated that its deal with TCI could lift its coverage closer to 77 percent.
To bolster awareness for its Aug. 31 launch, Pax Net plans
hefty promotion on its own air and in paid media. But agency sources said it will be
competing for attention against Fox Family Channel's well-heeled mid-August relaunch.