Crown Takes Earnings Hit

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Crown Media Holdings, which runs the Hallmark Channel, said Thursday its losses widened as ratings fell, cutting into advertising revenue.

Crown's second-quarter net loss was $9 million, or 8 cents per share, compared to $5.3 million, or 5 cents per share, a year ago.

Revenue fell 4% to $65.7 million in the quarter. Subscriber revenue was flat in part because one operator has not renewed its agreement to distribute Hallmark Channel, while ad revenue dropped 4% to $49 million. Crown blamed the decline on lower ratings.

Bill Abbott, president and CEO of Crown, said he was looking forward to new daytime programming the network would be adding from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, including The Martha Stewart Show.

Crown's conference call got a bit testy when investor Salvatore Muoio, who is suing the company over the terms of its recapitalization agreement with Hallmark Cards, got on the line to ask questions.

Crown executives declined to answer most of Muoio's questions, saying either he'd sought those answers during the discovery phase of his lawsuit, or directing him to the company's 10Q filing.

Read more at B&C here.