Bill Abbott is stepping down from his post as president and chief executive of Hallmark Channel, the cable network’s parent company announced Wednesday.
“I want to thank Bill for his many years of success and contributions to Crown Media and wish him continued success,” said Mike Perry, president and chief executive of Hallmark Cards, Inc. in a statement. Abbott, 57, had been on the job for eleven years.
No reason was given for Abbott’s immediate exit, which comes as a surprise in light of the growth and success at Hallmark Channel under his watch.
The decision follows Hallmark’s controversial decision in December to pull an ad from online wedding planning company Zola because it featured same sex-couples celebrating their marriages.
After significant backlash on social media, the company reversed its decision and apologized.
Perry publicly said that it was a “wrong decision” to pull the ads.
Hallmark, which is based in Studio City, has designed itself as controversy-free haven for viewers, with gentle romantic comedies set in idyllic towns.
The channel has managed to grow or retain its audience in recent years as other cable entertainment networks have seen declines due to competition from streaming video services such as Netflix. It plays particularly well across middle America, but has become escapist viewing for women throughout the country.