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On October 27, 1993, Paramount and Chris-Craft announced the formation of a new television network, later to be named the United Paramount Network, with initial plans to run two hours of programming in prime time for two nights per week.The new network would be owned by Chris-Craft Industries, while most of its shows were to be produced by Paramount Television.

In the wake of the successful Universal Studios ad hoc syndication package Operation Prime Time, which first featured a miniseries adaptation of John Jakes' novel The Bastard and went on to air several more productions, Paramount had earlier contemplated its own television network with the Paramount Television Service.

Set to launch in early 1978, it would have run its programming for only one night a week.

Independent stations, even more than network affiliates, were feeling the growing pressure of audience erosion to cable television in the 1980s and 1990s; there were unaffiliated commercial television stations in most of the major television markets, even after the foundation of Fox in 1986.

Meanwhile, Paramount, which had long been successful in syndication with repeats of Star Trek, launched several first-run syndicated series by the 1990s, including Entertainment Tonight, The Arsenio Hall Show, Friday the 13th: The Series, War of the Worlds, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Originally, the network was to simply be called "U", but the "U Network" trademark was held by the now-defunct National Association of College Broadcasters (NACB), which had been operating a satellite television programming network featuring largely college student-produced programs since 1991.

The founder and first head of UPN, Lucy Salhany, approached NACB with an offer of US,000 to transfer the name.

Chris-Craft and Paramount/Viacom each owned independent stations in several large and mid-sized U. cities, and these stations formed the nuclei of the new network.

UPN launched on Monday, January 16, 1995, initially carrying programming only on Monday and Tuesday nights from to p.m. The first telecast, the two-hour pilot episode of Star Trek: Voyager, was an auspiciously widely viewed start – being watched by 21.3 million viewers; however, Voyager would never achieve such viewership levels again, nor would any of the series debuting on UPN's second night of broadcasting survive the season.

Paramount formed the Paramount Stations Group in 1991 when it purchased the assets of the TVX Broadcast Group, which owned several independent stations in major markets.

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