Paxson Communications Corp. and the Kaleidoscope
FamilyHealth Network Inc. have deepened their existing ties with the announcement of a
joint programming venture, which chairman Lowell "Bud" Paxson calls a litmus
test for the considered launch of a separate 24-hour exclusive health network by Pax on a
Pax Family Health, which will bow this fall on Pax TV
on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., will provide viewers with "entertaining, quality
health programming" under the auspices of its family-oriented positioning.
The two companies have an existing relationship through
their Internet sites. They will now be solidified as the Kaleidoscope site, which will be
branded Pax Family Health and work in tandem with Paxtv.com. The Kaleidoscope site
is skewed toward health-related content.
"This programming agreement with Kaleidoscope will
provide Pax TV viewers access to the finest in health news, general health information and
interactive opportunities consistent with our Pax TV family values theme," Paxson
said in a prepared statement.
Paxson's ultimate goal is to be able to begin the new
millenium with an ambitious plan to launch several new around the clock networks on its
digital TV stations. Pax Family Health could eventually be offered along with a second
family network and a new home shopping network.
Pax is also counting on the new partnership to boost the
seventh U.S. broadcast network's ad revenue by tapping into the ever-growing bonanza that
pharmaceutical and other healthcare advertisers represent. Healthcare advertising outlays
have soared in the past year as a result of less stringent FCC regulations for TV
advertising of prescription drugs.
Pax's plans come as other major players also try to
capitalize on health-oriented programming. Liberty Media Group, which controls nearly half
of Discovery Networks, is slated to launch the Discovery Health Channel, a $
250 million network featuring health and fitness content.
Not to be outdone, News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch will
launch the Health Network, a new entity that sprung from the merger earlier this year
between that company's Fit TV and America's Health Network.
Pax TV, launched less than one year ago, has national
broadcast and cable distribution and airs off-network hits such as Touched By An Angel
and Diagnosis Murder,along with new original series Hope Island and Twice
In A Lifetime.
Murdoch is throwing down a challenge to Liberty chairman
John Malone by launching the Health Network in mid-July to 17 million cable subscribers.