A Hallmark 1Q for Crown

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Hallmark Channel parent Crown Media Holdings Inc. said Monday that Hallmark subscribers rose 9% to 114.9 million worldwide as of March 31 from 105.8 million as of March 31, 2003.

Hallmark ended the quarter with 57.6 million subscribers in the United States and 57.3 million international subscribers across 122 countries. Domestic subscribers were up 12% and international channels up 5% compared with first-quarter-2003 figures.

Crown’s first-quarter-2004 net loss was $41.5 million, or $0.40 per share, compared with $46.7 million ($0.45) in the year-earlier quarter.

The company’s adjusted-EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, debt and amortization) loss was $3 million versus a loss of $10.1 million in the year-ago period.

Crown posted revenue of $58.3 million, up 39% from $42 million in the first quarter of 2003.

Subscriber-fee revenue jumped 25% to $20 million from $16 million in the previous-year quarter due to increased international distribution of Hallmark and the end of free-carriage periods for some U.S. distributors.

Advertising revenue rose 34% to $30 million from $22.4 million in the prior-year quarter due to increased distribution, an enhanced programming schedule, higher ratings and higher advertising rates, specifically in the United States.

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