Hallmark Channel parent company CEO exits one month after same-sex marriage ad backlash
Posted January 23, 2020 7:43 a.m. EST
CNN — The president and CEO of Crown Media, the Hallmark Channel's parent company, is stepping down a little more than a month after the network apologized for removing advertisements featuring same-sex couples from the air.
Bill Abbott has led Crown Media Family Networks for 11 years, Hallmark Cards Inc., said in a statement. Hallmark Cards owns Crown Media and several other brands.
"I want to thank Bill for his many years of success and contributions to Crown Media and wish him continued success," Mike Perry, president and CEO of Hallmark Cards, Inc., said in the statement. The statement did not provide a date or a reason for Abbott's departure.
Crown Media includes entertainment brands, such as Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, Hallmark Drama and Hallmark Publishing.
"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," Perry said.
The Hallmark Channel came under criticism last month for its decision to pull ads featuring same-sex couples. The ads for online wedding planning company Zola showed same-sex couples celebrating marriage.
Hallmark pulled the ads after a campaign from conservative group One Million Moms called on the network to remove them and to ban other content showing same-sex couples.
In its original statement, Hallmark said it removed the ads because "debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value."
The channel later reversed its decision and apologized.
"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 provided to CNN Business last month. "Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision,"