NBC Rebrands Hallmark As Universal Channel In UK

NBC Universal, which acquired rights to the Hallmark Channel internationally in 2007, is swapping the famed moniker in the U.K. for one of its well-known brands. The network will be known as Universal Channel starting in October -- part of NBCU's efforts to elevate the Universal brand, around since 1912, across the globe.

Also, as Hallmark Channel in the U.K. offers a slew of popular dramas such as "House" and "Law & Order: SVU," NBCU felt the programming did not necessarily fit with the "family friendly" image cultivated by the network in the U.S.

"We know it will appeal to both our existing fan base and a whole new audience who may not have previously been familiar with the Hallmark Channel brand," said Laurence Dawkin-Jones, an executive with Universal Networks International, the NBCU division that offers Hallmark in 150-plus countries.

NBCU said it is looking for five brands to serve as a platform for its pay-TV channels internationally: Syfy Universal, Studio Universal, Diva Universal, 13th Street Universal and Universal Channel. Hallmark has become Universal Channel in Australia and Africa.

NBCU received rights to Hallmark Channel outside the U.S., where it is owned by Crown Media, through a deal with Sparrowhawk Media. In the U.K., the brand is distributed by providers BSkyB and Virgin Media.

ABC series "Rookie Blue" will be joining Universal Channel in the U.K.



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