Ion Television (stylized as ION Television or ion Television) is a broadcast television network first broadcast on August 31, 1998. The network is owned by ION Media Networks (formerly Paxson Communications). As of 2008[update], the network was reportedly viewable in over 94 million homes in the U.S. through its television station group, as well as cable and satellite distribution. The network has 94 affiliate stations in the U.S. (some of which are owned-and-operated).
The network changed its name from PAX TV to i: Independent Television on July 1, 2005, and then to Ion Television on January 29, 2007.
PAX TV logo, used from August 31, 1998 to July 1, 2005. The initial version, shown here, was tri-colored; by 2004 the logo had become a single color.Originally named Pax Net, then renamed PAX TV before its launch in 1998 by Lowell 'Bud' Paxson, co-founder of the Home Shopping Network and chairman of Paxson Communications, the network can be seen as a "semi-descendant" of InTV, launched in 1996; a shared-time specialty broadcast network service similar to cable channel Product Information Network, broadcasting infomercials and other paid advertisements on various affiliates, most being UHF channels. The network also aired religious programming at night from The Worship Network during the late night hours and contemporary Christian television network Praise TV Friday and Saturday nights from 12:00-3:00AM ET/PT.
Paxson, a born-again Christian since 1985, was unhappy with the amount of sex, violence, and profanity on network television and decided to create a network which would carry only programming devoid of such content. About all of InTV's affiliate stations ended up affiliating with PAX. PAX's initial schedule was much larger in scope than it is today and consisted of general entertainment programs from 12:00PM-12:00AM ET/PT weekdays and paid programming from 12:00-1:00AM and 5:00AM-12:00PM ET/PT and all afternoon Saturdays and Sundays. PAX continued on with the airing of programming from Worship from InTV.
Initial programming on the network consisted of new shows, such as It's a Miracle (the network's longest-running program, airing from just after the network's inception until 2003), the game show The Reel to Reel Picture Show, and talk shows Woman's Day and Great Day America, along with reruns of older programming, including Highway to Heaven, Here's Lucy, The Hogan Family, Dave's World, and Touched by an Angel. While the network was known as PAX TV, it created some original dramas such as Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye and Doc, which have since been cancelled, but reruns of the two shows were being shown on Ion Television as of October 1, 2007. New episodes and older reruns of Candid Camera were also shown.
The network's wholesome family-friendly format was lampooned by other television series such as The Simpsons, Will & Grace, and MADtv.
From PAX to i Edit
i logo, used from July 1, 2005 to January 29, 2007.On June 28, 2005, Paxson announced it would rebrand PAX as i, in order to reflect a new strategy of "providing an independent broadcast platform for producers and syndicators who desire to reach a national audience." After the transition was complete, PAX TV would continue to air programming under its PAX brand on one of its digital channels over the air and in select cable homes (see below). Some media observers jocularly postulated that i was code for "infomercial."
With this rebranding also came the following changes to the programming lineup:
i dropped overnight programming from The Worship Network, which had been airing late nights on the network since its launch in August 1998. The time period is now leased to infomercials. Worship programming moved to a digital subchannel on local i affiliates. In many markets starting in the Fall of 2002, i had aired editions of local newscasts from local NBC affiliate stations. Two i stations, KPXB in Houston and WQPX in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, aired newscasts from non-NBC affiliate stations (CBS affiliate KHOU and ABC affiliate WNEP, respectively). This was discontinued from some i station lineups on June 30, 2005. The change also displaced local news on WVPX in the Cleveland market, which was aimed at the station's former target area of Akron, Ohio. The newscast was produced by NBC affiliate WKYC in Cleveland, and moved to Time Warner Cable's systems in Akron and Canton, Ohio. Also dropped was "Tomorrow's Weather Tonight", a five-minute segment featuring current weather and forecasts from WeatherVision which had aired on the channel since 2000.
Ion Television operates on a 48-hour network programming schedule, which it adopted in September 2008. It provides 45 hours of prime time general entertainment programming to affiliated stations from 4-11pm weekday/6-11pm weekends (all times ET/PT), along with a 3-hour children's programming block known as qubo on Wednesday-Fridays from 3:00 to 4:00pm ET/PT. All other times are filled with religious programming or infomercials.
Primetime Info Edit
Among series slated for future broadcast; Criminal Minds and Ghost Whisperer will be added to the ION Television lineup sometime in 2009.
On May 1, 2008, Ion Television released its new programming plan for the 2008–2009 season at the New York Public Library in New York City. In addition to the "new" programming as described, Ion plans on starting its regular programming at 4PM ET / PT. The new season will also see a new logo and slogan for the network, Positively Entertaining.
The Ion Television schedule is subject to change. Programs such as: Mama's Family, Green Acres, Amen, Diagnosis: Murder, Alice, Who's the Boss?, Growing Pains, The Wonder Years, Battlestar Galactica, The Wayans Brothers, 48 Hours on ION Television, Baywatch, The Dead Zone, The Steve Harvey Show and Hangin' with Mr. Cooper have also aired, yet are no longer scheduled.
January 2009 marks the return of The Drew Carey Show and Quantum Leap to Ion Television. Also airing on ION Television are the classic James Bond movies of the 1980s (For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and A View to a Kill).
February 2009 marks the return of ER to Ion Television.
Children's programming Edit
The network, as PAX TV, aired a four-hour children's programming block called PAX Kids, which featured mostly religious children's programming and archive programming from DiC such as the Super Mario Brothers animated series. The lineup lasted only a year and a half, presumably due to low ratings. (The last animated show that got axed was Archie's Weird Mysteries). What was unusual about the lineup is that although it was a weekend-only lineup like ABC, CBS and NBC, it was spread over two days, Saturday and Sunday (CBS does allow some of its affiliates to air its children's programming on Sundays, however only one or two programs are usually aired on Sundays and not all affiliates do this).
Until UPN ceased network children's programming in 2003 with the loss of that network's Disney's One Too lineup, PAX was the only one of the eight broadcast networks (along with various religious networks) not to have a children's programming block.
In May 2006, the network announced plans to launch a new children's block on Saturday mornings starting in September 2006 as part of the qubo endeavor (see below), teaming ION Media Networks with NBC Universal, Scholastic Press, Corus Entertainment's Nelvana and Classic Media and its Big Idea Productions unit. qubo includes blocks airing on Ion Television, NBC and Telemundo (NBC Universal's Spanish-language network) along with a 24/7 digital broadcast kids channel, video-on-demand services and a branded website. ION Television, along with PBS, are the only broadcast networks that broadcast children's programming on weekday afternoons (NBC moved children's programming to weekends-only in 1956, other networks didn't follow until the 1980s and 1990s.
Previous network sports event telecasts included Conference USA college football games (produced by College Sports Television), the Women's United Soccer Association, Real Pro Wrestling (which more resembles the amateur form than the theatrically-based ring sport), the Champions Tour of golf, Paralympic Games, and most recently, BodogFight.
Some Ion O&Os broadcast local and regional professional sports on their stations; an example of this is the Tampa Bay Rays' baseball games on local affiliate WXPX. However, since they have no backup programming of their own and an almost-total reliance on Ion's satellite feed, sports on these stations often causes ION's programming to be joined in progress, and, on occasion, even be interrupted mid-program for a scheduled sporting event.
Ion Television has purchased the rights to air NFL Films' weekly highlight program, the NFL Films Game of the Week, Saturdays at 6PM ET beginning September 15, with the Giants-Cowboys game from September 9, 2007. The series ran from September 9 through December 29, but was not renewed for 2008.
Ion Television was supposed to begin coverage of the American Indoor Football Association beginning in March 2008. However, the game's producers did not provide a live broadcast and the deal was cancelled.
Game shows Edit
Ion, in its PAX TV incarnation, carried many game shows, some original and some reruns. Examples include Supermarket Sweep, On the Cover, Shop 'til You Drop, Balderdash, and Family Feud.
Currently, only Family Feud is on the ION schedule. The network apparently retains the rights to Supermarket Sweep and the original Michael Reagan-hosted 1987 run of Lingo, among a few other game shows, though it does not air them.
Ion Plus Edit
Separate national feeds have been made available to DirecTV, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and non-O&O stations, featuring programming from ION Life in place of paid programming that airs on the main network.
Prior to the launch of Ion Life, the Ion Plus feeds carried reruns of cancelled PAX original programs (Miracle Pets, Beat the Clock), as well as public domain movies and sitcom episodes (I Married Joan, The Beverly Hillbillies).
The feeds used the PAX name and bug long after PAX had changed its name to i, until about September 2005.
Ion HD Edit
In early 2009, Ion Media Networks had planned to launch ION Television HD by February 16. However, on February 19 they released a statement saying that to avoid confusion with the current DTV transition, they will postpone HDTV plans until March 16. Nevertheless, stations began to switch in late February from 480i to 720p, with most programming pillarboxed by very dark blue bars instead of black ones. Due to the presence of three other digital subchannels, it appears to be transmitted in 720p30 (30 frames per second) to reduce the bitrate, while sports-intensive networks (ABC, ESPN, and Fox) use high-motion 720p60.