NCTC seals carriage deal for Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movie Channel

In what has to be one of the less-dramatic carriage deals of late, the National Cable Television Cooperative has reached a multi-year renewal its deal with Crown Media Holdings, giving it access to the Hallmark Channel and the Hallmark Movie Channel. That assures NCTC 1,000 members the right to give their customers some of the "aw, shucks" moments for which Hallmark programming is renowned.

Terms of the deal weren't released.

Crown Media Holdings (NASDAQ:CRWN) operates and distributes Hallmark Channel in HD and SD to 87 million U.S. subscribers, featuring family programming including TV movies, general entertainment and home and lifestyle content. It also operates the Hallmark Movie Channel, available in both HD and SD, which focuses on family-friendly movies with a mix of classic theatrical films, presentations from the Hallmark Hall of Fame library, original Hallmark Channel movies and special events.

"We are delighted to announce the renewal of this affiliation agreement with the NCTC whose member companies are outstanding partners," said Bill Abbott, President and CEO, Crown Media Holdings. "This new agreement reflects NCTC's and Hallmark Channels' emphasis on quality and service to our respective subscribers and viewers."

While Crown may have been able to reach a Hallmark moment with NCTC, it's not likely to be exchanging holiday cards with AT&T, which since September has been without either Hallmark channel.

The two made a lot of noise during their very public imbroglio, eventually agreeing to disagree.

AT&T at the time said Hallmark had "refused to provide AT&T and its customers with a fair deal--one that is no worse than similarly-sized and smaller providers--and refused to adhere to key obligations under our current deal."

Responding, Abbott said he was ""stunned by the apparent disregard for the facts in AT&T's recent statement regarding our negotiations," and added that the programmer was open to further discussions. "If they are really serious, my team and I are ready for truly fair negotiations."

Hallmark spokeswoman Annie Howell told FierceIPTV today that no agreement has yet been made, but that "conversations are continuing."

For more:
- see this release

Related article:
AT&T pulls plug on Hallmark channels for U-verse subscribers