Hallmark Chief Slams Family-Tier Idea


Washington -- Hallmark Channel executive vice president and chief operating
officer Paul FitzPatrick Thursday criticized the need for family-friendly
programming tiers advocated in January by Federal Communications Commission
member Kevin Martin.

In a speech here, FitzPatrick said the creation of programming tiers deemed
suitable for families "would undercut the economic foundation of networks such
as the Hallmark Channel and, I would argue, cable operators and DBS
[direct-broadcast satellite] operators."

FitzPatrick went on to tell the Washington Metropolitan Cable Club that
proposals at the FCC to require cable carriage of both analog and digital
signals (and perhaps even multiple digital signals from each TV station in a
market) would have a similar deleterious effect on cable networks without the
market clout of big media conglomerates.

FitzPatrick spoke out most strongly against family tiers, which Martin said
cable should consider developing so that families are not forced to buy
programming tiers that include channels that might be inappropriate for

But the breakup of large tiers would cloud Hallmark's financial-growth
prospects and cripple its ability to boost penetration from about 50 million
homes today to 90 million sometime in the future, FitzPatrick said.

"If, in fact, this concept is about establishing a separately packaged and
priced tier of so-called family-entertainment services, then the resulting scale
reduction in distribution and advertising dollars would also be devastating," he