Bill Abbott, chief executive of the Hallmark Channel's parent company Crown Family Networks, is to exit the business following on from a controversy over the company's handling of an ad featuring a same-sex couple.
In a statement confirming the news, parent firm Hallmark Cards didn't mention the recent press storm surrounding Abbott. However, it's reported to have prompted the departure of the longtime executive.
“After 11 years, Bill Abbott, president and chief executive of Crown Media is leaving the company,” said Mike Perry, president and chief executive of Hallmark Cards.
“I want to thank Bill for his many years of success and contributions to Crown Media and wish him continued success."
“In a time when there is immense competition among television networks and streaming services, it is more important than ever that we find relevant new ways to grow our business and continue to produce high-quality programming that resonates with our growing audience.”
A new boss has yet to be named, but it's understood Perry will personally lead the search for a replacement.
In December 2019, the network — best known for its holiday and romance movies — was forced to U-turn on a decision to pull an ad that showed a lesbian couple getting married.
The spot (below) promoted the wedding planning tool Zola and drew complaints from a right-wing Christian group called One Million Moms who claimed it had spoken directly with Abbott. Following a backlash, the ad was reinstated.
Crown Family Networks is controlled by Hallmark Cards and operates three entertainment brands: Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and Hallmark Drama, in addition to a video-on-demand service and e-book publishing division.
The flagship Hallmark Channel drew 1.7m primetime viewers between 16-22 December according to Nielsen Research.