Ion Media Networks (until recently known as Paxson Communications) has negotiated a partnership for blocks of children’s programming and will ultimately launch a full digital kids-broadcasting network.
Ion executives are talking to children’s producers Scholastic, Nelvana and Classic Media, as well as NBC, about a venture that would start programming parts of Ion’s I network in September. The venture would start by programming Saturdays, expand to a daily strip block and ultimately create a 24/7 network on part of the digital capacity of the Ion’s 60 owned-and-operated stations. The venture will create its own ad sales force.
An Ion spokesman would not comment on the plans. The deal is a first step in trying to revive Ion’s programming. The company has abandoned ambitions for a major family-friendly network—PaxTV—and loaded up on reruns and infomercials. Since being appointed last November, CEO Brandon Burgess has stabilized the company’s crushing debt load and is turning to programming.