Hallmark Channel, Time Warner Cable Strike Carriage Deal

Crown Media Holdings struck a deal with the second-largest cable operator, Time Warner Cable, on a multiyear renewal for carriage of Hallmark Channel to 12 million-plus households, network president Henry Schleiff said Thursday.

The agreement also includes a hunting license for HD and standard-definition versions of Hallmark Movie Channel, which means Hallmark has permission to try to sell that channel on a system-by-system basis, with regional and local executives free to make their own calls.

Hallmark is routinely a top-10-rated network, and it came in at No. 7 last week in primetime among ad-supported networks.

Schlieff has been pushing for more money from operators given that regular top-10 rating and family-friendly pedigree at a time when cable content is under fire from some in Washington.

So, did that translate to more money from Time Warner? Schleiff wasn't talking figures, but he did say that the channel "doesn't sign these agreements unless they are mutually satisfactory, and we wouldn't have signed this one if we didn't think we were getting fair treatment."

The Time Warner agreement gives Hallmark three of four key renewals. It reupped with satelite operator EchoStar Communications last March and with number one cable operator Comcast in December. Schlieff said he is in negotiations with DirecTV and sees a happy ending there, too. "I was cautiously optimistic that we would conclude Time Warner by the end of February," he told B&C. "I think we will get there with DirecTV quite shortly."

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.