Monday, January 4, 2021

TV Networks: The Paramount Channels

Currently part of ViacomCBS, Paramount Pictures has had a long and (mostly) failed history of trying to start up broadcast television networks. It is actually one of the distant ancestors of ABC, which began life as the parts of Paramount that had to be spunoff when the federal government decreed that movie studios could not own movie theaters. Sensing that movie theaters were not going to be much of a growth industry, Leonard Goldenson- who had been entrusted with the theaters after the split- built ABC into one of the “Big Three” television networks. Not willing to be outdone by its past theater group, Paramount Pictures decided to create the Paramount Television Network.

Using the extremely popular KTLA as a flagship station, Paramount planned to produce programming in Hollywood and distribute it out to its affiliates throughout the country. (At the time, most networks produced their television programming in New York.) Paramount hoped to capitalize on its film library to make an attractive package for its various affiliate stations. 

Anti-trust lawsuits, legal problems with the DuMont Network and a poor slate of affiliates doomed the effort, however, and Paramount gave up its network dreams in 1956. Its biggest hit, The Lawrence Welk Show, moved on to ABC and the shortlived network became mostly forgotten. While it would accept its loss this time, the thought of a television network with the Paramount name would stay on the minds of company executives.