Ion Television is an American broadcast television network owned by the Katz Broadcasting subsidiary of the E. W. Scripps Company. The network first began broadcasting on August 31, 1998, as Pax TV, focusing primarily on family-oriented entertainment programming. It rebranded as i: Independent Television (commonly referred to as "i") on July 1, 2005, converting into a general entertainment network featuring recent and older acquired programs. The network adopted its identity as Ion Television on January 29, 2007, and airs programming in daily binge blocks of one program, usually acquired procedural dramas. The network also carries some holiday specials and films before Christmas.
Ion is available throughout most of the United States through its group of 44 owned-and-operated stations and 20 network affiliates, as well as through distribution on pay-TV providers and streaming services; since 2014, the network has also increased affiliate distribution in several markets through the digital subchannels of local television stations owned by companies such as Gray Television and Nexstar Media Group where the network is unable to maintain a main channel affiliation with or own a standalone station, for the same purpose as the distribution of Ion's main network feed via pay-TV providers and streaming services.
The network's stations cover all of the top 20 U.S. markets and 37 of the top 50 markets. Ion's owned-and-operated stations cover 64.8% of the United States population, by far the most of any U.S. station ownership group; it is able to circumvent the legal limit of covering 39% of the population because all of its stations operate on the UHF television band, which is subject to a discount in regard to that limit. In the digital age, the restoration of the UHF discount has proven controversial with other broadcast groups and FCC rulings between presidential administrations, though as the network's parent company mainly acquired low-performing stations and stations on the fringes of markets which targeted lower-profile cities in the analog age, it has not been an issue with Ion Media itself.