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AMERICAN MEDICAL TELEVISION/NBC EXPLORING 24-HOUR CABLE CHANNEL

Executive Summary

AMERICAN MEDICAL TELEVISION/NBC EXPLORING 24-HOUR CABLE CHANNEL for AMT's medical programming, the networks said Aug. 26. "NBC intends to develop a greater presence for AMT with consumers and physicians through various means including potential distribution through Direct Broadcasting Satellite and a 24-hour cable channel," NBC said. NBC has upped its interest in AMT to 40% and is now the managing partner, the network said. The American Medical Association "continues as a programming resource and as a major partner in the venture," NBC added. AMT programming is currently broadcast on NBC's CNBC cable subsidiary on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. AMT also announced Aug. 26 that it has become a 50% partner in Pyramed Networks, the Physicians Interactive Network. Pyramed was formed as a joint venture between Hearst/ABC Viacom's Lifetime Medical TV and Interactive Health Network; Lifetime was recently merged into the joint venture ("The Pink Sheet" July 26, T&G-13). Pyramed expects to begin installing its first interactive units in physician's offices in September for test-marketing. The company said it "has attracted funding support from several pharmaceutical companies; five companies have made commitments for six of the seven available advertiser spots." Pyramed plans both to adapt AMT programming to the interactive format and to produce TV programs for AMT. Commenting on the two moves, AMA Exec VP James Todd said: "AMT has the opportunity of being the source of information on medical and healthcare issues." AMT is "the only current provider of health and medical television programming in the country," NBC said. The Novus Group, however, has announced plans for a 24-hour consumer-oriented health channel (see preceding T&G). AMT is planning to "expand its current capabilities to include CD-ROM multimedia accelerated learning, interactive programming and monthly specials on national health policy issues," NBC said. "Production is already under way on a special AMT program for physicians reviewing President Clinton's healthcare reform plan."

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