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Star Trek Goes to Washington

Paramount Domestic Television has locked up Washington, the last top 10 market, for its syndicated re-release of Star Trek, The First Generation.

The distributor is digitally re-mastering the original 79 episodes of the iconic series and syndicating it to broadcast stations for the first time since the late 1980's--it is available in the multichannel universe on Sci Fi and G-4 cable nets.

Fox-owned WDCA Washington, the former UPN station that has since converted to My NetworkTV, bought the weekly hour show and is airing it Sunday's at 2 p.m.

WDCA and the show have a long history together. The station has carried the various Trek spin-offs, including riding the tail of a comet along with the other UPN affiliates when the Launch of Star Trek: Voyager on UPN (Jan. 16, 1995), averaged a 14.5 rating/20 share to beat all the other networks for the night.

The new, old Star Trek, which celebrated its 40th birthday Sept. 8, has now been sold in all 50 of the top 50 markets and is cleared in 99% of the country.

Paramount employed a couple of tech types who had worked on earlier Star Trek spin-offs to update some of the graphics for the remastered version--stars, ships, phasers, matte paintings--so that it would fit the eye of a new generation weaned on CGI, and so that it would look, and sound, better in high-def.

The theme has been rerecorded with a 29-piece orchestra and the planet backdrops have been enhanced for more realism, as have been the planets the ship sails by on its five-year mission.

The series launched September 16-17 with "Balance of Terror" and "Miri." Others scheduled for early play include "The Devil in the Dark," "The Naked Time, "and "Menagerie."

Paramount Domestic TV President John Nogawski has said of the facelift: ""By giving the series a digital upgrade using the best technology available today, it will continue to be a leader in cutting-edge television programming as we introduce the series to a new generation of viewers."

How long it lives and prospers will depend on the ratings, however, which won't be in for a couple of weeks.