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Now that it's up and running, the fledgling Pax TV network is preparing to sell direct-response merchandise.

Most new broadcast and cable entities fill their airwaves with direct-response ads since they don't reach enough people to sell out their ad inventory to regular product and service marketers. Pax TV is different, however, in that it intends to market its own products using that method.

The network is led by Lowell "Bud" Paxson, who is best known for founding the Home Shopping Network in 1982.

"We hope we can be real smart and identify some products that will become hot-sellers and then sell them in 60-second [commercials]," Mr. Paxson told Advertising Age.


Pax TV is trying to build a wholesome, family image around such shows as "Touched by an Angel," the CBS hit Pax TV airs in rerun form at 8 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday. The icon for the network is the biblical white dove; the network deliberately wants to brand itself with angels, doves and similar imagery.

By the holiday season, Pax TV would like to be running 60-second spots hawking a collection of angel merchandise, although Mr. Paxson conceded it will be hard to meet that deadline.

He would like to include merchandise specific to the "Touched by an Angel" show in a collection, but "CBS owns the show and I don't know if they will allow that," Mr. Paxson said.

When the show first became a hit on CBS in 1994, New York-based Myers Consulting Group brokered a deal in which Sears, Roebuck & Co. was set to launch a "Touched by an Angel" line of jewelry.

Although projections pegged sales at about $25 million in two years, according to one executive familiar with the plan, CBS apparently scotched the deal.

Myers President-CEO Jack Myers declined comment.

Knowing the previous objection to "Touched by an Angel"-related merchandise by CBS, Mr. Paxson said Pax TV would likely launch its own angel merchandise, branded with the network's name.

He said consumers also could look for a red, white and blue line of Pax TV-branded clothes.

Additionally, the company is close to a deal with the Gospel Music Association to sell various collections of gospel music on CDs and cassettes on the air, Mr. Paxson said.


The executive noted that most revenue in home shopping comes from a limited number of items. Still, he said, merchandise sales could eventually account for between 15% and 25% of Pax TV revenue.

Commenting on the 0.6 national Nielsen rating Pax TV did its first week, Mr. Paxson said: "We believe it was really a 0.7; Nielsen's just not measuring all our viewers. But we'll get that straightened out.

"We averaged a 1.1 [rating] in 31 metered markets between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. We're quite happy with that, and think our advertisers are, too."

He said the network should be in the black early next year.

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