Hallmark Channel chief is out after same-sex ad controversy

Despite leading Hallmark Channel to record viewership, Bill Abbott is out at the cable service

Just a few weeks after leading the Hallmark Channel to being the number-one-watched cable entertainment network on television and through its biggest on-air controversy, the CEO who headed the cable service is out.

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Hallmark Cards Inc. Wednesday announced that Bill Abbott will no longer be the president and CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, which is the umbrella company for the Hallmark Channel and its spin-offs Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and Hallmark Drama.

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Mike Perry, president and CEO of Hallmark Cards Inc. – which owns Crown Media – thanked Abbott “for his many years of success and contributions to Crown Media" and wished him "continued success.”

During the recent 2019 holiday season, The Hallmark Channel reigned over cable television boosted by its holiday movie marathons. The service was seen by more than 1.7 million in prime time between Dec. 16 and Dec. 22, according to Nielsen Research.

The channel also found itself in the middle of a controversy when the PG network pulled an ad from wedding-planning firm Zola featuring a same-sex marriage. Following a social media and public relations firestorm, which included critical tweets from the likes of daytime TV superstar Ellen DeGeneres, the channel reversed its decision three days later.

“The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused,” Perry said in a statement at the time. “Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision.”

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Ironically, Abbott joined Crown Media in 2000 as its head of ad sales. He became CEO in 2009.

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