The Hallmark Channel parent company announced on Thursday that CEO Bill Abbott is stepping down. The move came about a month after the network was caught up in controversy after commercials were shot with a same-sex couple,
Crown Media's statement on Wednesday gave no reason for Abbott's departure. The Hallmark Channel is known for its vacation specialties that are popular with both viewers and advertisers. However, public attention to the same-sex advertising campaign last month casts a shadow over the typically sunny program.
The problem started when the Hallmark Channel removed several ads from the wedding planning company Zola under pressure from the conservative group One Million Moms. According to a statement by Hallmark about the decision to remove the stains, the group at Abbott had complained about the content of the advertisements in which a female couple got married and kissed at a wedding.
But after the Hallmark Channel ran the ads, there was a backlash where TV presenter Ellen DeGeneres tweeted on both the Hallmark Channel and Abbott: "What do you think? Please explain. We're all ears."
In the Wednesday statement, the company noted that its networks, including Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, have grown in recent years. Hallmark Cards President and CEO Mike Perry said he plans to look for a replacement for Abbott.
"I have a lot of faith in the Crown Media management team, and with this team I will look for Bill's replacement," said Perry.