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Turner, Crown Talk About Hallmark Channel Investment

Turner Broadcasting System may be considering an investment in Crown Media’s Hallmark Channel.

A spokeswoman for Hallmark confirmed that Crown CEO Henry Schleiff met with executives from Turner, but she would not confirm the nature of the discussions.

This would not be the first time Hallmark has been on the block. Crown opened up the possibility in August 2005 when it announced that it would seek strategic alternatives including the sale of the network. After entertaining some bids, including from Turner parent Time Warner, the search for a potential suitor was called off in April 2006. Other companies that were reportedly showing interest at the time included Disney, Viacom and News Corp.

In 2005, Crown sold its international versions of Hallmark Channel, the international rights to the Crown Media Library and a Denver-based broadcast facility to Sparrowmark, an investment group that includes Providence Equity Partners, 3i and U.K. television executive David Elstein. Those assets were sold again in August to NBC Universal.

Hallmark, which provides family-oriented programming, has 82 million subscribers and was the 11th-highest-rated advertising-supported cable channel in total-day ratings and primetime in the second quarter.

Cable programmer Turner is home to a variety of network assets including CNN, Cartoon Network and Court TV.