Hallmark Channel to Eliminate Smoking in Original Films

Hallmark Channel said Thursday it would follow Disney's lead and work to eliminate smoking from its original films.

Hallmark President Henry Schlieff took the same route as Disney in declaring his intentions, sending a letter to House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) echoing Disney President Bob Iger's pledge the day before. Markey had asked Hollywood studios to cut back on smoking depictions during a recent hearing on the impact of media images in kids.

 "It is our decision to make a commitment to you that we will discourage and, in fact, seek to eliminate any further depiction of cigarette smoking in our original movies," said Schlieff. "We hope that this decision will serve as an example for other cable networks that produce movies to follow and, most importantly, that it contributes to your efforts to discourage further cigarette smoking."

 Hallmark has made a concerted effort to impress Washington with its family friendliness, looking to capitalize on Congress' and the FCC's concern about content issues like violence and indecency and hoping to translate that family-friendliness into higher fees for its Top10-rated network.

 Hallmark plans to produce 30 original movies in 2008, which it says is the most of any cable net.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.