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PHYSICIAN's TELEVISION NETWORK PLANS SEPTEMBER 1994 LAUNCH

This article was originally published in The Tan Sheet

Executive Summary

PHYSICIAN's TELEVISION NETWORK PLANS SEPTEMBER 1994 LAUNCH for its satellite-delivered channel for doctors. Programming on the network will be centered around medical news and accredited continuing medical education programs, the Physician's Television Network said. PTN is a division of Visual Information Systems, a privately held medical video publishing company based in Secaucus, N.J. PTN expects to receive 95% of its revenues from advertising by pharmaceutical companies on the network. To date, the network has one signed advertiser, a pharmaceutical firm. PTN plans to "loan" the Digital Satellite System (DSS) components needed to access the network -- a decoder box, a remote control and an 18-inch satellite dish -- to about 1 00,000 primary care physicians, 1,000 hospitals and 250 HMOs and insurance providers. Participants are expected to be signed up in March, PTN said. PTN planned programming includes morning and evening news programs that will include medical news as well as national and international news updates; a live call-in talk show featuring health care authorities; medical business news; and CME programming. Shows will give physicians the opportunity to interact using the remote control; for instance, they may answer questions and enter a personal identification number for credit on accredited CME programming, or be polled for positive or negative response during the talk show, PTN explained. The network is forming a "blue ribbon" panel of physicians to determine the details of the programming. Two "strategic partners" will help promote the network, PTN said: Cligott Publishing and Emeron, Inc. Liberty Comer, N.J.- based Emeron, a managed care communications and consulting firm, will also give input on managed care programming. Cligott Publishing, based in Greenwich, Conn., is a publisher of medical journals and will provide all printed material, including program guides, for PTN. PTN will be distributed by DirecTv, a direct broadcasting service division of General Motors subsidiary GM Hughes Electronics. A satellite carrying DirecTv frequencies is scheduled to launch Dec. 20; a second satellite, which carries DirecTv frequencies including the one allocated to PTN, is targeted for a July 1994 launch. Through DirecTv, physicians would be able to access other channels with offerings such as cable programming or movies on 50 to 60 channels, on a pay-per-view or monthly subscription basis. RCA will sell the DSS system and, according to PTN, anticipates interest from other health care professionals such as pharmacists and dentists. PTN plans to have a sales force of about 10 by early next year to promote the network. The DSS system will be set up so that only "authorized physicians and health care professionals" can access PTN, DirecTv and PTN noted. Another emerging venture targeted specifically to physicians is Pyramed Networks, the Physician's Interactive Network, scheduled to run on a pilot basis from the first quarter 1994 through April. Pyramed currently seems to have more emphasis than PTN on information retrieval, including elements such as a CD-ROM and a computer terminal. Other ventures, such as American Medical Television programming, currently showing on NBC's cable channel CNBC on weekends, and "The Health Channel," a planned cable channel, are, respectively, partially or wholly directed at a more general audience ("The Tan Sheet" Aug. 30, p. 23).
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