|Launched||1984 (as ACTS)
1988 (as VISN)
1992 (merger of VISN/ACTS)
1993 (as Faith & Values Channel)
1996 (as Odyssey Network)
August 5, 2001 (as Hallmark Channel)
|Owned by||Crown Media Holdings (Hallmark Cards)|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)
|Slogan||The Heart of TV|
|Headquarters||Studio City, California, U.S.|
|Sister channel(s)||Hallmark Movie Channel|
|Selective TV Inc.
|K51JY (Channel 51)|
|Dish Network||185 (HD/SD)|
|Available on most cable systems||Check local listings for channels|
|Verizon FiOS||240 (SD only)|
The Hallmark Channel is a cable television network that broadcasts across the United States. Their programming includes a mix of television movies/miniseries, syndicated series, and lifestyle shows that are aimed at a family audience. It is owned by Crown Media Holdings, which is majority-owned by Hallmark Cards.
In the United States, the network began as two separate religious cable channels, the American Christian Television System (ACTS) and the Vision Interfaith Satellite Network (VISN). These two networks shared time on the same channel beginning in 1992. Under the original timeshare agreement, the network was called VISN/ACTS. Each station was provided time for its programming blocks, and would use its own logo.
VISN began broadcast in 1988 aired about 16 hours a day and had religious programs from mainline Protestant denominations like the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Church of Christ, and others. Roman Catholic, LDS Church, Jewish and Islamic faiths also provided programming. VISN aired in mornings and evenings. ACTS commenced operations in 1984, owned by the Southern Baptist Convention. It aired programming from evangelical and fundamentalist non-charismatic Christian groups like the SBC, Christian Reformed Church, Association of Regular Baptist Churches, as well as well known evangelists like Jerry Falwell, Charles Stanley, D James Kennedy, among others. Both channels had several hours a week of religious children's programs, some of which overlapped. These shows included Sunshine Factory, Joy Junction, Davey and Goliath, Jot, and others.
In 1993, the network was renamed "The Faith and Values Channel". It began adding a few secular shows during this time, such as exercise shows, health and cooking shows, and family-friendly dramas and movies. In 1995, cable giant Tele-Communications Inc. bought a 49 percent stake in Faith and Values and took over operational control of the network. It added more secular programming to the network and reduced religious programming to about 10 hours a day. Faith And Values was then renamed "The Odyssey Channel" in 1996, using the domain name Odysseyfamily.com for posting TV listings.
Crown Media Holdings and The Jim Henson Company bought majority stakes in Odyssey in November 1998. The Hallmark/Henson version of Odyssey launched on April 4, 1999, and the airing of religious programs went down to four hours a day. Some classic sitcoms, children's programming, and more family movies were added. Henson sold its interest in the channel to Crown Media Holdings in 2000. Odyssey then dropped much of the children's programming and cut back the religious shows to a few hours on Sundays.
History as Hallmark Channel 
The channel was renamed The Hallmark Channel on August 5, 2001. It completely dropped religious programing, but continued to focus on family and drama shows, drama movies, classic sitcoms, and other general entertainment. The National Interfaith Cable Coalition, to own about 5% of the channel, and still produces some content for them. The change meant that The Kermit Channel in Asia was also changed to The Hallmark Channel, reducing the former to a three-hour block on Hallmark.
Hallmark Channel aired an original weekday morning show entitled "New Morning" in 2002 and added a Sunday morning version, hosted by Naomi Judd, entitled "Naomi's New Morning" in 2005. The show was pulled from the schedule in early 2007.
David Evans was CEO of the newly-developing network, until he resigned in May 2006. The network was without a formal CEO until October 2006, when Henry Schleiff was appointed as the new CEO, overseeing all of the networks’ divisions. Prior to this position, Schleiff was Chairman and CEO of Court TV.
In January 2007, Hallmark Channel dropped the Hallmark crown from its channel logo, but still uses it in certain places on-air, Hallmark promos, and in other countries.
On May 27, 2007, Hallmark Channel launched "Watch With Me", a new national public affairs initiative aimed to promote programming for families to watch together, and "to spend more time together."
In 2008, Hallmark Channel unveiled a new branding campaign with predominantly gold coloring, a stylized logo, and a new slogan, "Make Yourself At Home".
In February 2008, the Hillary Clinton campaign purchased an hour of Hallmark Channel's primetime under a paid programming arrangement on February 4, 2008, the day before the multi-state "Super Tuesday (2008)" primaries.
On May 6, 2009, Henry Schlieff stepped down as CEO. William J. Abbott, Executive Vice President of Advertising Sales stepped in to the position the same day. Both parties said Schleiff's departure was amicable. Later that month it was announced that Crown Media Holdings had put the channel up for sale, which was burdened with over $1 billion in debt for the network. After over a month with no prospects for buying the network, it was taken off the block; the board blamed the large debt for the lack of interest. CEO William J. Abbott decided that Crown Media Holdings would take the network in a younger, "lighter" direction, while continuing to cater to baby boomers.
In January 2010, their on-air branding was revamped for HD broadcasting. A predominantly lavender color scheme, 3D renderings of the Hallmark script logo, and relatively simple elements make up the new look, including a new slogan, "Celebrate Life's Moments." The channel also celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Hallmark brand in January 2010.
Hallmark Channel airs classic TV shows, original movies, and past segments from their parent company's Hallmark Hall of Fame anthology series, which features made-for-television movies and miniseries, most of them from the series' CBS run.
Current Hallmark daytime original programming includes Home and Family, hosted by Mark Steines & Christina Ferrare), Marie, hosted by Marie Osmond and a weekly daytime program called Who Let the Dogs Out.
Original movies 
The network's made-for-TV movies are characterized as family-friendly and inspirational, ranging from holiday-themed films to westerns. In the early stages of the channel's development, the channel had a steady one-movie-a-month, or 12-a-year, production schedule and were mainly produced by RHI Entertainment. However, in 2008 the company had ramped up their production schedule to approximately 30 movies a year and opened up to other production companies, though RHI still produces some movies for Hallmark Channel. The network released 35 original movies in 2009-2010. Hallmark Channel released 25 new movies for the 2011 year.
Countdown to Christmas (and other Holiday programming) 
From the first weekend in November until December 25, Hallmark Channel presents Countdown to Christmas which has become televisions #1 holiday viewing destination. 24 hours of holiday movies, specials, and holiday themed original programming are broadcast during this time of year. The holiday theme continues for another week when Hallmark Channel presents Countdown to New Years from December 26 until January 1, ending with the Tournament of Roses Parade. In February, love themed movies and specials are shown leading up to Valentine's Day. In May, movies and specials relating to Mother's Day are presented and just the same goes for Father's Day in June. In October around Halloween, spooky themed movies and specials are shown which include Hallmark Channel's popular The Good Witch original movie series.
Consumer website 
On November 19, 2007, the network refreshed its consumer website, www.hallmarkchannel.com, offering users microsites dedicated to original programming and marketing initiatives, such as sweepstakes and special 'events' like "Crime Time Sunday". Some of the microsites have games centered around the movie's theme.
On Location 
On July 21, 2008, the website launched its original online series called "On Location" that features an on-camera host who introduces interviews and behind-the-scenes footage from the filming of Hallmark Channel's original movies. The segments are featured on each movies' individual microsite. The series had a soft launch in July 2007 with the title "Inside Story" and a different host for Avenging Angel, Charlie & Me, The Good Witch, Daniel's Daughter, and The Note.
In 2009, the online show was revamped again, removing the on-camera host altogether. Love Takes Wing is the last title featured in an "On Location" with an on-camera host. All titles following do not have an on-camera host.
Online movie shop 
On January 29, 2009, the company announced the development of an online movie shop at both www.hallmarkchannel.com and www.hallmarkmoviechannel.com featuring DVD movies and movie-related products from its library. The shop is powered by the Amazon Associates program. Since its soft launch in mid-2008, Hallmark Channel has already generated sales of over 10,000 items. The network earns a commission on each sale.
In mid-June 2009, the network announced it would sell individual ad breaks featuring a single advertiser. The so-called "Fast Breaks" will come with short bumpers announcing that the show will return in 30 seconds. The cost of such standalone spots is about double that of a regular 30-second commercial on the channel. Hallmark Channel signed insurance company Mutual of Omaha as the first buyer.
Hallmark Channel around the world 
The name Hallmark is also used for various cable channels worldwide. Hallmark Channel across the world is owned by NBC Universal and is run by different entities that have access to the Hallmark name and brand. They also have different programming and standards than Hallmark Channel USA.
Blogger Donna Cavanagh has raised a concern with the network regarding its allowable on-air language policies, describing them as "censorship at its worst". Words such as "ass", "hooker", and possibly "butt" are dubbed out. In response to Cavanagh's inquiry, a representative of the network said:
Crown Media Networks is committed to family friendly programming. Our Standards & Practices ("S&P" — the things that are or are not acceptable for a particular network) are very conservative. There are words and phrases commonly used on other cable channels and broadcast networks that Hallmark Channel's S&P guidelines deem unacceptable.
Cavanagh accused the network of hypocrisy in blocking such material as being objectionable according to the network's standards while continuing to broadcast sitcoms such as Frasier and The Golden Girls, which often feature themes of sexuality and promiscuity.
See also 
- Hallmark Movie Channel
- List of programs broadcast by Hallmark Channel
- List of Hallmark Channel Original Films
- Hallmark Hall of Fame
- Hallmark Channel Mystery Wheel
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- Crime Time Sunday Microsite[dead link]
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- Adoption Microsite[dead link]
- Avenging Angel Microsite[dead link]
- Charlie & Me Microsite[dead link]
- The Good Witch Microsite[dead link]
- Daniel's Daughter Microsite[dead link]
- The Note Microsite[dead link]
- Love Takes Wing Microsite[dead link]
- Hallmark Channel Online Shop[dead link]
- "Hallmark Channel Press Release 1/29/09". Hallmark Channel press site.
- Hallmark Channels Go Dark On AT&T U-verse, Multichannel News, September 1, 2010
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