FANDOM


Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

With corporate mergers, acquisitions, and splits, the Star Trek franchise has had several different owners in its history. Creator Gene Roddenberry lost all rights and title to his creation, save for his "created by" credit, the moment he sold his Star Trek is...-pitch to Desilu Studios in April 1964, as was customary in the motion picture industry at the time.

Desilu (1964 – 1967)
Being the first franchise owner, the by Lucille Ball owned studio produced the two Trek pilots "The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before" in 1964 and 1965 respectively, and began to produce Star Trek: The Original Series in 1966.
Paramount Television, Paramount Pictures, Gulf+Western (1967 – 1989)
Gulf and Western Industries, more commonly known as Gulf+Western, acquired Desilu in 1967 and named it Paramount Television by merging it with Paramount Pictures' own, hitherto rather insignificant television division. The by the Bluhdorn family owned Gulf+Western had already acquired Paramount Pictures the year previously. The original series shared a joint Paramount Television/Desilu copyright in the latter half of the second season, and went under the Paramount Television logo and copyright in the third season.
In 19731974, Paramount Television licensed Filmation to produce Star Trek: The Animated Series, but asserted ownership as the both the distributor and franchise owner. Paramount Pictures began producing and distributing Star Trek films in 1978. After a false start in 1977 with Star Trek: Phase II, Paramount Television began producing Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987.
Paramount Pictures, Paramount Television, Paramount Communications (1989 – 1994)
Gulf+Western reorganized in 1989, sold off most of its non-communications holdings, and renamed itself Paramount Communications. It continued to hold Paramount Television, which continued to produce TNG and began producing Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in 1993, and Paramount Pictures, which continued to produce Star Trek films.
Paramount Television/CBS Paramount Television, Paramount Pictures, (old) Viacom, National Amusements (1994 – 2005)
Paramount Communications was purchased in 1994 by the old Viacom, a National Amusements subsidiary since 1987. In 2000 Viacom purchased CBS Studios and merged their studio operations with Paramount Television, it becoming CBS Paramount Television. During Viacom's ownership, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise were produced, while Deep Space Nine continued to be produced until is conclusion in 1999. Paramount Pictures continued to produce Star Trek films.
Television – CBS Paramount Network Television/CBS Television Distribution/CBS Studios, CBS Paramount Television/CBS Television Studios, CBS Corporation, National Amusements (2006 – present)
Viacom was split in late 2005 into two separate publicly traded corporations, becoming effective on 17 January 2006. The old Viacom then became CBS Corporation. Its hitherto combined and dependent CBS Paramount Television holding was on the same occasion broken up into its constituent parts as separate, independent (meaning, each with its own profitability responsibility) corporate entities. The three now separated parts consisted of the distributor CBS Paramount Network Television (taking over distribution of past Star Trek shows), the television production company CBS Paramount Television – for the time being retaining the original combination name until rechristened CBS Television Studios in 2009 – , and the broadcaster CBS Studios. The latter became in the process formally the third franchise owner, when it was appointed the titular holder of all rights and title to the entirety of the Star Trek franchise. In early 2008 CBS Paramount Network Television had already been renamed to CBS Television Distribution, and was in the same year absorbed in CBS Studios, partially reversing the 2005 breakup of the original television unit. Star Trek: Discovery and beyond are produced under the auspices of the production company CBS Television Studios.
Films, Home Video Formats – Paramount Pictures, (new) Viacom, National Amusements (2006 – present)
In the 2005 Viacom/CBS split, the old Viacom became the CBS Corporation and a new Viacom was created. This new company owns Paramount Pictures, which in turn owns the rights to the first ten Star Trek films in full. Paramount Pictures conceived and produced a new re-imagined Star Trek film franchise in the form of the three alternate reality films Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Star Trek Beyond under a license from CBS Studios, but only owns the rights to these in part. Paramount also continues to distribute DVDs and Blu-ray Discs of the older TV series on behalf of CBS, though now merely receiving a compensation for their services from CBS as of 2006, contrary to the pre-split situation when they were entitled to the full proceeds – and contrary to those of the first ten films, the proceeds of which Paramount is still fully entitled to. For Discovery and beyond however, CBS is the sole distributor of the resultant home video formats.
The split marked the occasion that the former (CBS) Paramount Television was formally separated from Paramount Pictures; up until that point in time the television division had always been a (combined) subsidiary dependency of Paramount Pictures. The loss of its television operations, also meant the loss of the Star Trek franchise, ending the four decades long formal association between Star Trek and Paramount, the latter in essence becoming a mere Star Trek subcontractor.
The legality and formality of the 2005 split notwithstanding though, it must be stressed that both CBS Corporation and (new) Viacom remain subjugated to the "controlling interests" (industry euphemism for de facto ownership) of holding company National Amusements. It is therefore National Amusements – or rather its full owner, to wit, the Redstone family – which is still the legal end owner of the entire Star Trek franchise ever since old Viacom acquired it in 1994. Its current CEO and (co-)owner Sheri Redstone has never been in favor of the old Viacom split her father Sumner had engineered, and is presently endeavoring to effect a "reunification" of her company's two holdings.
Community content is available under CC-BY-NC unless otherwise noted.