German family programming and merchandising giant EM.TV is taking an 8.2% stake in the US' Crown Media Holdings in exchange for its stakes in Crown's US pay-TV station Odyssey Network and Asian Kermit Channel.

EM.TV inherited a 22.5% stake in the Odyssey Channel and 50% of the Kermit Channel in February this year when it acquired The Jim Henson Company. Crown Media and EM.TV have also agreed to create a branded block of programming for Odyssey using EM.TV's programming library.

"EM.TV succeeded as one of the first European media companies in establishing a programme block on a US pay television channel", said EM.TV chairman Thomas Haffa. He added that the co-operation with Crown Media will help establish EM.TV product in other major international markets.

Crown Media chairman David Evans added that the merging of EM.TV's stakes in the two pay outlets will simplify investor relations and enable the company to be more flexible in programming and marketing.

Crown also owns the Hallmark Entertainment Network which it recently launched in Israel (Screendaily, July 25).