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Byline: Joseph M. Tartakoff
Jul. 17--Four years ago, Paxson Communications Corp. was on a roll.
Ratings at Paxson's family-friendly network, PAX-TV, were up 23 percent for the year and analysts were recommending the company's stock, which was trading at about $12 a share.
A year before, NBC had invested $415 million in the company.
"It's a gem out there in Paxson Communications," Barry Hyman, the chief investment strategist at Weatherly Securities, told CNNfinancial in January 2001.
Today, the West Palm Beach-based company is struggling after four years of tumbling ratings and massive losses. Paxson's stock has fallen to about 60 cents a share, and the company announced July 1 it was remaking PAX-TV into an independent television network called "i."
Media watchers have blamed unpopular programming and insufficient marketing for the network's failure. And they said it was unclear how i would avoid PAX-TV's fate.
At i, independent producers will pay Paxson to air their shows on the company's stations across the United States. Paxson also will run some content from its programming library of 600-plus hours.
And it's possible that i could move some distance away from PAX's G-rated focus. Spokeswoman Leslie Monreal said that while programming on i …