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Crown Reduces Loss

Crown Media Holdings Inc., the operator of family-oriented cable TV networks, on Wednesday said its first-quarter net loss decreased because of lower costs.

The Studio City company reported a net loss of $2.3 million (-2 cents a share), compared with a loss of $7.5 million (-7 cents) a year earlier.

Total revenue fell 4 percent to $68.4 million. Advertising revenue fell 7 percent to $51.3 million, but that was offset by an 11 percent increase in subscriber fee revenue to $17 million. Cost of services fell 12 percent to $31.9 million.

The company, which operates Hallmark-brand cable TV channels, said it continued to realize benefits from cost control measures and previously negotiated increases in subscriber fee revenues, with adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) up 31 percent to $24.4 million.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. in January struck a deal with the owners of the Hallmark Channel to exclusively televise the “Martha Stewart Show” and other productions on the cable channel starting this fall.

“We have taken important steps in the first quarter to develop Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel as two independent and viable networks” said Crown Chief Executive Bill Abbott in a statement. “Our partnership with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia will provide the ideal platform to introduce our new daytime schedule of lifestyle programming. We will then be able to refine our line-up at Hallmark Movie Channel to distinguish it with family movies 24/7.”

Shares were down 2 cents, or 1 percent, to $1.80 in midday trading on the Nasdaq.

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