Crown Media Holdings, parent of the Hallmark Channel, is undergoing a painful process of restructuring its balance sheet while also attempting to revamp its family-oriented programming.
Hallmark is one of the last remaining independent cable networks, but its ability to compete against larger rivals is hampered because of a heavy debt load and because it can't leverage a large number of channels to extract better deals from cable and satellite operators. Last week Crown cut 15 jobs, or 8% of its work force, and a possible solution to trim the company's debt is meeting resistance from some bondholders.
In the meantime, the network is trying to shift its programming. The idea is to gradually move most of the Hallmark movies to the smaller Hallmark Movie channel, available in 30 million homes. The primary Hallmark Channel would then be populated with a mixture of movies, classic TV shows and holiday specials. The flagship channel is carried in 88 million homes.