Media Lifeline: Paramount Comedy

House of fun has kept us chuckling for ten years

1996: In 1995, Paramount Pictures and BSkyB launch a joint venture channel showing archive material such as I Love Lucy. It is relaunched as Paramount Comedy Channel, focusing on comedy, notably more recent shows such as Frasier (pictured).

2001: From the start, this new channel also seeks to break new ground by developing and nurturing indigenous talent - including early outings for Matt Lucas and David Walliams, Simon Pegg, Jessica Stevenson and Dom Joly. Now it seeks to assert its own identity in sales terms too, by becoming a founding member of the Viacom Brand Solutions sales operation.

2003: Paramount Comedy launches a second channel to develop new programming strands and to carry edgier material, particularly stand-up comedy formats. Its commitment to live comedy events now includes Edinburgh and Beyond (a showcase tour for the best of Edinburgh Fringe discoveries) and the Brighton Comedy Festival.

2004: Paramount Comedy now signs a joint venture co-production initiative with five to create and develop new home-grown UK television series. This joint venture is headed by the ex-BBC and Channel 4 comedy commissioning editor, Graham Smith, whose credits include Spaced and shows featuring Harry Hill, Graham Norton, Mark Steel and Jo Brand.

2006: With new branding and a reinvigorated programming strategy - its biggest coup is winning exclusive rights to the new South Park series (pictured) - Paramount Comedy celebrates ten years by developing a digital cross-platform strategy, including mobiles.

Fast forward ...

2008: Following deals with Channel 4 and ITV, as well as five, Paramount concentrates on the development of new formats and scripts, becoming effectively the UK's leading commercial comedy production house. Even the BBC can't compete with the gross ratings racked up by this house of mirth, which also boasts an unparalleled archive of hit programming, including the seemingly evergreen Frasier.

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