Time Warner Renews Hallmark Channel Carriage

Hallmark Channel has completed another major distribution renewal agreement--with Time Warner, the second-biggest U.S. cable operator.

Hallmark's parent, Crown Media, would not disclose terms of the deal, except to say it's a multiyear pact. Time Warner Cable will provide Hallmark and the Hallmark Movie Channel to its 12 million homes--in addition to offering an HD version for the Hallmark Movie Channel. Back in November, it completed the first of three major distribution deals with Comcast Corp. "It was somewhat similar to Comcast," said Henry Schleiff, president/CEO of Crown Media Holdings, regarding the Time Warner agreement. "We have gotten fair consideration in regard to our performance. The deal is mutually beneficial."

Back then, one industry analyst estimated the Hallmark/Comcast deal would start at a four cents per subscriber month fee in the first year, rising a penny a year and topping off at eight cents in the final year of the agreement.

Hallmark has grabbed some headlines, complaining that it is one of the only broadly distributed, independently owned cable networks that don't garner the same higher distributor fees as other big media, such as Time Warner, NBC Universal, or Viacom, despite that fact Hallmark is rated as a top 10 network.



Late last year, Schleiff had publicly campaigned that Hallmark had not been dealt with fairly in negotiations with cable networks. Schleiff even asked the Federal Communications Commission to investigate his claim.

Hallmark has been looking for a substantial hike beyond the average fee of 3 cents to 4 cents a sub per month it charges cable operators --specifically because of its high-rating performance versus other cable networks that get higher monthly fee deals.

Next up for Hallmark are negotiations with DirecTV.

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