Crown Media Holdings not to sell Hallmark Channel US

MUMBAI: Crown Media Holdings, Inc., which owns and operates the Hallmark Channel, has decided not to sell out the channel. The company, after extensive review of strategic alternatives including a possible sale of the company, announced that the board of directors has decided to terminate this process and fully commit the company's resources to continuing to operate its channels and its VOD and HD programming services.

"We worked diligently with the Special Committee and our financial advisors to evaluate various strategic initiatives. Ultimately the board determined that the greatest value for our shareholders will be derived by our continued operation of our business. Given the record ratings results, subscriber growth, and solid advertising and subscriber fee revenue increases we have been able to achieve, we believe that the underlying business fundamentals are in place to enhance the value of Crown Media by building a more successful business. Our results in the first quarter continue to reflect the success of our programming strategy and subscriber expansion as we solidify our appeal to viewers and advertisers on a broad national level," stated Crown Media Holding president and CEO David Evans.

"Our management team is prepared to meet the challenges ahead with the talent and experience that have made us a top ten cable channel with over 72 million subscribers. We intend to implement cost saving strategies and emphasize programming and marketing promotions to continue our efforts to target a younger audience. We have initiated discussions with our distributor partners in order to renew our licenses and intend to aggressively pursue those renewals on favorable terms. We will continue to pursue opportunities to improve our capital structure. We are extremely pleased to have the support of our partners as we work together to operate the business on a long-term basis," he added.

Hallmark Cards, Inc., which owns 67 per cent of Crown Media, has indicated its continuing support of the channel by agreeing to extend its trademark license agreement with Crown Media.

"We are proud to be associated with a channel with such strong ratings and advertiser support. Our relationship with Crown Media has been mutually beneficial. Crown Media has been able to leverage the consumer recognition and strength of the Hallmark brand and together we have collaborated on successful co-marketing programs between Hallmark Channel and the more than 4,000 Hallmark Gold Crown stores," said Hallmark Cards, Inc. president and CEO Don Hall Jr.

The company had announced in August 2005 that its board of directors had authorised management to explore strategic alternatives for the company. After pursuing a number of alternatives and meeting with interested parties, the company and the Special Committee of the board has determined that the best course of action at this time is to continue to operate the business. The company will continue to explore ways in which it can improve its capital structure.

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