For nearly a dozen years, Bill Abbott has served as president and CEO of Hallmark Channel, which expanded its programming and enjoyed increased ratings and ad revenue during his tenure. So an announcement Wednesday from the channel's parent company that Abbott is resigning was somewhat surprising, per the Los Angeles Times—though maybe not a 100% shocker, considering the hubbub surrounding ads that were pulled then restored in December, during the height of Hallmark Channel's holiday season. "I want to thank Bill for his many years of success and contributions to Crown Media and wish him continued success," said Hallmark Cards President and CEO Mike Perry (Hallmark Channel is owned by Crown Media, which in turn is owned by Hallmark Cards).
Hallmark Channel found itself at the center of controversy last month when, after pressure from a conservative advocacy group, it pulled commercials for wedding planning site Zola that featured same-sex couples at their weddings, including two brides kissing. After much backlash, the channel reinstated the ads. Adweek notes that while management hoped the "black eye" of the controversy would die down, Hallmark Channel still canceled an event it usually holds as part of the Television Critics Association winter press tour earlier this month just to avoid being bombarded with questions about the Zola ads. No official reason has been given for Abbott's departure. Perry says he'll now start searching for a new Hallmark Channel chief. (Read more Hallmark stories.)