Hallmark media CEO leaves, month after same-sex ad backlash

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FILE – This July 26, 2018 file photo shows Bill Abbott, left, with a dog named Happy at Hallmark’s Evening Gala during the TCA Summer Press Tour in Beverly Hills, Calif. The head of Hallmark’s media business is leaving the company after 11 years. No reason was given for Bill Abbott’s departure as CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, and no replacement was immediately named. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The head of Hallmark’s media business is leaving the company after 11 years, just a month after its flagship Hallmark Channel faced an outcry over a decision to pull an ad with a lesbian couple kissing.

No reason was given for Bill Abbott’s departure, and no replacement was immediately named.

In a statement, Mike Perry, president and CEO of Hallmark Cards Inc., said that with immense competition from TV networks and streaming services, it is important for the company to find “relevant new ways to grow our business.”

Abbott was CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, a company controlled by Hallmark Cards. Crown Media’s flagship cable channel is The Hallmark Channel, known for family-friendly programming, particularly made-for-TV Christmas-themed movies.

In December, the Hallmark Channel’s decision to pull an ad featuring the same-sex couple led to an outcry online. The company later reversed the decision.

Crown Media also operates the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, Hallmark Drama networks, subscription streaming service Hallmark Movies Now and e-book publishing division Hallmark Publishing.

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