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Advertising, Carriage Fees Boost Hallmark

Increased advertsing sales and carriage fees at its Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel helped drive overall revenue up 18% at parent Crown Media in the third quarter.

Third quarter revenue was $74 million, fueled by a 9% increase in domestic ad revenue at Hallmark Channel and a 70% increase at Hallmark Movie Channel. Carriage fees were up 29% in the period to $18 million.

Crown said that Hallmark Movie Channel averaged about 373,000 additional homes per month between Sept. 2010 and Sept. 2011. It currently has carriage in about 42 million homes.

Crown shares were up 2.5% (4 cents per share) to $1.65 each in early trading Thursday.

On a conference call with analysts, Crown CEO Bill Abbott said the advertising sales growth was due to higher ratings and additional carriage. But he added that the continued sluggish economy could affect future growth. Crown experienced a slowdown in advertising spending later in the third quarter, a trend it expects to continue into the fourth quarter.

"We're still hopeful that there will be some last minute retail and entertainment dollars that will be spent closer to air date," Abbott said. "Overall we're not alone. Advertisers committed a lot more to the upfront his year. The scatter market, as a result of that plus the economic trends is just below where we have seen it in the last several quarters."