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Paramount Television
Fate Merged with CBS Productions
Founded December 1967
Defunct January 17, 2006
Products Television Production
Parent Gulf+Western (1967-1989)
Paramount Communications (1989-1994)
"Old" Viacom (now CBS Corporation) (1994-2005)
CBS Corporation (2006)
1975-1987 Blue Mountain variation of the Paramount Television logo with the "Television" name on top of the mountain.

Paramount Television was an American television production/distribution company that was active from 1967 to January 17, 2006.

Its successor is CBS Television Studios, formerly CBS Paramount Television. Its predecessor is Desilu Productions.

Contents

Background

The company was known for producing and distributing programs such as The Andy Griffith Show in the 1960's, Happy Days on ABC in the 1970's, Cheers and its spinoff Frasier on NBC in 1982 and 1993, the Star Trek franchise, Girlfriends in 2000 (with Grammnet Productions, 2006-2008 episodes by CBS Paramount Network Television) on UPN, Duckman in 1994 (with Klasky Csupo) on USA Network, and the daily Paramount staple Entertainment Tonight in 1982, among others.

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Origins

The predecessor company, Desilu Productions, was originally founded in 1951 by Lucille Ball (1911 – 1989) and Desi Arnaz (1917-1986) for the purpose of producing their sitcom, I Love Lucy, for the CBS network. It later produced other shows, such as Our Miss Brooks, The Untouchables, Mission: Impossible, The Andy Griffith Show, Mannix, and Star Trek: The Original Series (the latter 4 would be continued under Paramount Television).

Paramount Pictures had made a couple of attempts in the mid-1950s to produce series themselves under the Telemount (Television + Paramount) banner. The first, Cowboy G-Men, was a joint effort with Mutual Broadcasting for syndication. The second, Sally starring Joan Caulfield, was a short-lived series on NBC during the 1957-58 season. Before that, Paramount owned a de facto television network, the Paramount Television Network, and had a stake in a full-fledged network, the DuMont Television Network; alongside outright ownership of two TV stations: KTLA in Los Angeles and WBKB (now WBBM-TV) in Chicago.

Another attempt produced by Paramount was Destination Space, a pilot to a proposed series that never got off the ground, produced in association with the CBS Television Network in 1959.

Sale and re-incorporation

In 1967, Ball, by then sole owner of Desilu, sold the company to Gulf+Western Industries. Desilu was merged with G+W's movie studio (and Desilu's next door neighbor) Paramount Pictures, resulting in Desilu's re-incorporation as Paramount Television in December of that year.

The first PTV production to premiere after the re-incorporation was Here's Lucy. Paramount only produced the first season however, selling their stake in the show to Ball after the season finale. The rights were later sold to Telepictures (owned by Warner Bros. Television).

Failed network plans

Paramount Television had plans to launch a television network in the late 1970s, the Paramount Television Service, with a new Star Trek series as the cornerstone of the network. But these plans were scrapped, and Star Trek: Phase II was reworked into Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Barry Diller, who came up with the 4th network idea, continued to pitch the idea to the board of directors. They continued to resist the idea until Diller left Paramount in 1984. He moved to 20th Century Fox, who agreed to launch a 4th network after Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation purchased the studio and several independent stations. The new network, the Fox Broadcasting Company, is now one of the top 4 major television networks in the United States.

Relationship with ABC

In the past, the network which Paramount Television had the most success on was ABC. Every year between 1969-1992, at least one long-running Paramount Television production was on the ABC lineup. The most successful PTV shows on the network were The Brady Bunch, Love, American Style (both from 1969-74), The Odd Couple (1970-75), Happy Days (1974-84), Laverne & Shirley (1976-83), Mork & Mindy (1978-82), Taxi (1978-82 on ABC, 1982-83 on NBC), Webster (1983-87 on ABC, 1987-89 in syndication), and MacGyver (1985-92). These were but a few of the Paramount Television productions to air on ABC.

In contrast, for years Paramount Television had been relatively unsuccessful on the other two "Big 3" networks. After 2 long-running PTV shows on CBS (Mission: Impossible and Mannix, both of which were inherited from Desilu) ended in the mid-1970s, the company did not have another hit on the network until JAG moved over from NBC in the 1996-97 season and lasted 9 additional seasons on CBS. PTV also assumed production of the cult hit Star Trek on NBC from Desilu, but lasted only one full season under the Paramount Television banner on NBC and the studio did not have another hit on that network until Cheers and Family Ties premiered in 1982.

The relations between ABC and Paramount were far more than just the line of successful television series. Paramount's old theater chain, United Paramount Theaters purchased the ABC network in 1953 and helped turn it into a major player. In 1974, Paramount sold its record label holdings, the Famous Music Group, to ABC (MCA would acquire ABC Records in 1979, and the Paramount record holdings are now owned by Universal Music Group).

Ownership changes and library expansion

In 1989, Gulf+Western was re-incorporated as Paramount Communications, named after the company's prime asset, Paramount Pictures (the name of which was also used for the company as a whole). That firm was sold to Viacom in 1994. Then, in January 1995, Paramount finally launched a TV network, the United Paramount Network, or UPN for short, co-owned with Chris-Craft Industries. PTV produced the bulk of the series airing on UPN, including the first program ever shown on the network, Star Trek: Voyager. UPN became 100% owned by Viacom in 2000 after Chris-Craft sold its share (its TV stations were sold to News Corporation).

The Viacom merger gave Paramount a larger TV show library as well, since Viacom had television production and distribution units as well prior to the Paramount acquisition (the distribution company, Viacom Enterprises, was merged into Paramount Domestic Television while the production company, Viacom Productions, continued as a PTV division until 2004). Viacom's logo continued to appear at the end of certain series however (like Matlock and its spionffs, except on prints airing on the Hallmark Channel and several of its final season syndicated episodes which were produced post-merger). Paramount Television then distributed the Carsey-Werner Productions library for a couple years (inherited from Viacom Enterprises) until C-W formed its own distribution unit (Paramount began inserting its logos in to post-1994 episodes of programming; all Carsey-Werner syndicated programs now carry the company's closing logo).

Paramount continued to build its TV library. In 1999, Viacom acquired full interest in Spelling Entertainment Group, and the rights to Rysher Entertainment's TV holdings. That same year, Viacom acquired CBS, which had actually spun off Viacom in 1971. PTV began to produce more shows airing on CBS (it already produced JAG a former NBC production and Nash Bridges, having acquired the latter from Rysher), including such hits as JAG spin-off NCIS and Criminal Minds (with ABC Studios).

In 2000, Paramount Television acquired syndication rights to the DreamWorks Television-produced sitcom Spin City, anticipating Viacom's acquisition of DreamWorks by 5 years.

In 2004, Viacom Productions was folded into Paramount Television, ceasing to exist after 30 years of television production. The last series produced by Viacom Productions to premiere was The 4400 (which aired on USA, formerly part-owned by Paramount), the second season was then produced by PTV. It is also the last VP-produced show to be canceled, having suffered that fate in December 2007.

The fall and re-rise of Paramount Television

The end of Paramount Television

At the end of 2005, Viacom split into two completely separate companies, one of which was called CBS Corporation, the other retaining the Viacom name. Despite Paramount Pictures being owned by the new Viacom, the Paramount TV library was inherited by CBS, and Paramount Television was merged with CBS Productions on January 17, 2006, forming CBS Paramount Television. The company kept the Paramount Domestic Television logo intact on television until May 28, 2006. However, the network version was used until June 10, 2006.

Because National Amusements retains majority control of both CBS Corporation and the new Viacom, CBS programs (both before and after the split) are still distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment.

UPN also became part of CBS Corporation, and a week after CPT was formed, CBS announced they were closing down UPN and merging it with The WB Television Network (owned by Time Warner) to form The CW Television Network, inheriting several series from both networks.

The end of the Paramount name on television

The company survived as CBS Paramount Television for three years. However, CBS began phasing out the Paramount name as early as 2007, when the American distribution arm was merged with King World Productions (bought by CBS just prior to the Viacom merger) to form CBS Television Distribution. The international distribution arm at first took up the CTD name as well, but later became CBS Studios International.

In 2009, CBS quietly announced that the Paramount name would be stripped from both the main company (CBS Paramount Television) and its production arm (CBS Paramount Network Television), with the latter being renamed CBS Television Studios.

With these transactions, Paramount's involvement in television - at least in name only since 2006 - came to an end after 70 years (when the experimental TV stations that later became KTLA and WBBM were founded). Paramount had been the first major Hollywood studio to be involved in television.

The return of Paramount in television

When CBS Paramount Television was renamed to CBS Television Studios, Paramount Pictures joined forces with Trifecta Entertainment & Media in distributing the Paramount and Republic film libraries on television. Paramount is a co-owner (with MGM and Lionsgate) of Epix, a premium television network set to launch in fall 2009. Thus, Paramount will once again have some involvement in television.

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