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Hallmark lands Choice real estate

Pact to expand channel to 40 mil subscribers

HOLLYWOOD — Crown Media and DirecTV are entering into a relationship under which the Hallmark Channel will be repositioned as part of DirecTV’s Total Choice programming package.

With this repositioning, the distribution of the Hallmark Channel in the U.S. will be expanded to 40 million subscribers by the end of September.

In addition to this agreement for expanded distribution, the two companies will explore the distribution of additional programming services, interactive broadband applications and pay-per-view options for programs from the film library to be acquired by Crown Media and additional programs of Hallmark Entertainment.

As part of this relationship, DirecTV will receive 5.4 million shares of Crown Media common stock, representing 4.7% of the fully diluted equity of Crown Media after closing of the pending films transaction with Hallmark Entertainment Distribution.

As part of the collaboration between DirecTV and Crown Media, DirecTV will work with Crown Media and Hallmark Entertainment to explore the feasibility of PPV distribution of longform titles, as well as the development of interactive applications, including one known as V Greetings.

“We have stated on numerous occasions that the success of our business is dependent on our efforts in three strategic areas — brand, content and distribution,” said David Evans, prexy and CEO of Crown Media Holdings.

“On the brand and content front, we’ve successfully completed the global rebranding of the Hallmark Channel and are in the process of finalizing the acquisition of over 700 titles from the award-winning Hallmark Entertainment library. Now with this agreement, we are able to advance our goals on the distribution front.”

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