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NBC U Buys International Hallmark Channels

NBC Universal has made a deal to buy Sparrowhawk Holdings, which owns international cable channels including the international versions of The Hallmark Channel, and overseas rights to the former Crown Media/Hallmark programming library.

The move is part of NBC Universal President and CEO Jeff Zucker's plan to more than double its international cable assets in the next three years. In addition to the Hallmark brand overseas--The Hallmark Chanel in the U.S. is not involved in the deal--Sparrowhawk channels include Movies 24, Diva TV and a stake in KidsCo.

Several reports put the price tag at about $350 million, though NBC was not commenting. Sparrowhawk reportedly paid something just north of $240 million for the assets back in 2005.

Sparrowhawk is principally owned by venture capitalists Providence Equity Partners and 3i.

NBC also picks up a Denver-based transmission facility that delivers the channels as well as the 580 library titles.

A spokewoman for the U.S. Hallmark Channel says that network is not for sale, pointing out that the NBC buy was to boost that company's international footprint.