Broadcast, Cable Pioneer Paxson Dies at 79

Broadcast and cable pioneer Lowell “Bud” Paxson died on Jan. 9 at his home in Montana.  He was 79 years old.

Dean Goodman, Paxson's former business partner, confirmed the TV veteran's passing. 

Paxson was a member of the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame (inducted in 2002) and had a career that included time as an on-air personality (he was the star of Kiddie Go Round a local radio show at 14), radio and TV station owner and founder of iconic cable networks. Paxson and business partner Roy Speer founded Home Shopping Club in 1982 in Clearwater, Fla., — the idea came to Paxson after one of his radio station clients paid an ad bill with 118 electric can openers, which he announced he would sell for $10 each if customers would come down to the station. He sold out in three hours. Paxson and Speer renamed the network Home Shopping Network and it soon grew to $1 billion in sales.

Paxson left HSN in 1991 to form Paxson Communications acquiring more radio and television properties across the country and lobbying for broadcasters' rights. He was a driving force in the federal “must carry” language in the 1992 Cable Act and the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

After selling his radio stations to Clear Channel in 1997 for $700 million, Paxson used the money to partner with Dean Goodman to form Pax-TV, a fledgling seventh broadcast network in 1998. Pax-TV later changed its name to ION TV, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009, long after Paxson had left the company. ION emerged from bankruptcy in December of 2009.

"Bud was a man of deep faith, family and philanthropic endeavors," said Goodman in a letter to the National Association of Broadcasters of Paxson, who only allowed family-friendly programming and commercials onto Pax-TV. "His personal commitment to his faith was a hallmark of Bud's character." 

"Broadcasters have lost a friend and a legend in the passing of Bud Paxson, who was a tenacious advocate for over-the-air radio and television," said NAB CEO Gordon Smith in a statement. “Bud's support for program carriage rules as part of the 1992 Cable Act helped sustain diverse voices on the airwaves and allowed free and local broadcasting to remain a competitive force in today's multichannel world. NAB mourns the loss of a true giant of broadcasting."

Paxson is survived by his wife Marla; children Todd, Devon, Julie and Nicole; daughter-in-law Dorian; and grandchildren Riley, Talon, Levi, Dakota, Austin and Colton.

Services will be held on Jan. 22 at Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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