. and Chris-Craft/United Television's
first attempt at creating a broadcast network resulted in the Prime Time Entertainment Network, or PTEN. This was an ad hoc
network of independent stations that was intended to standardize the scheduling and marketing of Warner's first-run syndicated dramas. In truth, it was actually little more than a syndication
package like Operation Prime Time of the 70s and 80s, the Paramount service that was planned to launch in 1978, but was scuttled (the Star Trek
series intended for that evolved into Star Trek: The Motion Picture
), or Universal
's Action Pack
, a collection of shows sold as a block to the participating stations. Warner hoped that it would eventually grow into a true network, but that was not to be.
PTEN had three strikes against it going in, which all but scuttled the intent to turn it into a real network:
- The participating stations generally got to choose when on their schedule the PTEN programs would air. Presumably, an interest in getting a return on their investment would lead to scheduling the programs in Prime Time broadcast slots, but this was not always the case, as fans of the nascent network's offerings would soon find out.
- A completely different division of Warner was already in the process of setting up the network which would become The WB.
- Chris-Craft, a boat maker which happened to get into television (by way of United Television/BHC Communications), decided to hitch its wagon to Paramount Pictures and, with their stations and those of Paramount (who had acquired TVX Broadcast Group in 1991 (which had gotten many of its stations from the former Taft Broadcasting) and renamed it as the Paramount Stations Group, which later merged with the group of CBS O&Os after the Viacom-CBS merger, and are currently either My Network TV, The CW, or independent; ironically, only one of the orginial six Paramount stations, KTXA-21 in Dallas, currently an independent, is still owned by CBS) as the nucleus, launched UPN, which ate up PTEN's prime time slots and pushed their shows into the Friday Night Death Slot, late night or Saturday afternoons, which were among the busiest timeslots for syndicated programming in The Nineties.
The internal conflict within Warner Bros. and Chris-Craft's apathy guaranteed one of their projects would be killed, and PTEN was the loser.
It lasted only four years (1993-1997), and in its final seasons was kept alive solely by its one surviving program: Babylon 5
Other programs that were part of the PTEN syndication
package were Time Trax
and Kung Fu: The Legend Continues