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Hallmark Net Exec Blasts Family Tier

4/27/2003 8:00 PM Eastern

Washington— Hallmark Channel executive vice president and COO Paul FitzPatrick last week criticized the call for family-friendly programming tiers made 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 operators."

FitzPatrick went on to tell the Washington Metropolitan Cable Club that proposals before the FCC to require cable carriage of both analog and digital broadcast-TV signals (and perhaps even multiple digital signals from each TV station in a market) would have a similar deleterious effect on cable networks that lack the market clout of big media conglomerates.

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

Breaking up 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 said.

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