Paxson Goes Back to Infomercial Roots

When failing to program a network, just let small-time advertisers take your channel to infomercial-land.

Paxson Communications, the ragtag bunch of small-signal broadcast stations that comprised the last broadcast network, is essentially doing just that; it's holding out the white flag on its family-friendly programming idea, and will program nothing but infomercials.

By running only infomercials, the financially troubled broadcaster doesn't need any of NBC Universal's advertising sales help - and said it was dropping those agreements.

NBC Universal already voiced its displeasure over Paxson and has wanted out for sometime. NBC has insisted that, according to its deal, Paxson must buy back its 32 percent stake. Paxson has refused and, in any case, hasn't got the dough.

So Lowell Paxson, chairman of Paxson Communications, who started the Home Shopping Network back in the 1980s, will be officially going back to his roots - making his broadcast network another advertising channel.



So much for advertiser worries about TiVo's commercial skipping technology and broadcast ratings erosion. Now, there's plenty of broadcast commercial time freed up. But oh... too bad no one is watching.

Interestingly, TV Entrepreneur Byron Allen, in musing over the possibility of buying the network recently, also talked about scheduling plenty of infomercials should he acquire the company.

TV business journalists won't have to struggle any longer with the notion of seven broadcast networks - if they ever did.

Technically, Paxson is a broadcast network because of its over-the-air station signals. In the old days - late '80s and early '90s - those signals, in theory, had big value versus that of cable networks. Now those distant signals mean little as cable networks have grown.

But don't accuse Paxson for being out of step with the times. Far from it. The network will essentially be one big fat branded entertainment haven - albeit in the low rent better-abs, clearer-skin, and real-estate-for-no-money-down neighborhood.

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