Where are you in the renewal process?
I’m thrilled to say that we’ve completed our hat trick—Mediacom, EchoStar and NCTC. We are very pleased with these renewals because they emphasize a fair price for our service. [Still to come are] Comcast, Time Warner, DirecTV and Cablevision—all of which we are engaged in. We’re having favorable discussions.
You’ve hit the 80mln mark and are getting, according to estimates, approx 4 cents/sub. There are nets with lower ratings that you in getting 10-20 cents. How do you convince cable and DBS to boost licensing fees?
We literally have increased our viewers for every single month for the last 60 months plus. We deliver family friendly programming, which there is a scarcity of. We are the poster child not only on Capitol Hill but in their local communities and front yards to help them with indecency and the unintended consequences of retransmission consent.
Does analog vs digital carriage still matter to you?
We’re a family friendly network—a home for every viewer in America, and it’s necessary for us to be on expanded basic. Genre services that appear to the smaller constituencies. Those are the nets they should be migrating.
How has your job changed since Henry Schleiff came on board?
Henry ushered in an infectious enthusiasm for the Hallmark Channel. He has wild expectations. He raised the bar, and because of that we’re taking the channel to the next level. Henry gets it. He could’ve radically changed the programming, but he got the brand… and realized there is no need to reformat.
What were your takeaways from the Cable Show?
Distributors are drafting on the Feb ’09 digital mandate, pushing out the metal to subscribers, and ultimately the transition will be challenging for programmers and subscribers. It’s imperative to provide customers "additive" opportunities to watch their favorite shows when and where they want to watch them, including Webcasts, DVRs, podcasts, mobisodes and VOD. There’s also a ferocious appetite for HD content. Brand preferences and connecting with viewers are increasingly more important.