January 23, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The chief executive of the TV network overseeing the Hallmark Channel has stepped down a month after the channel first banned and then reversed its decision and allowed four commercials featuring same-sex “weddings.”
Bill Abbott, chief executive of Crown Media Family Networks, is stepping down from his position and no replacement was announced in a statement released by Hallmark yesterday. The statement noted that Abbott has been with the company for 11 years.
Mike Perry, president and chief executive of Hallmark Cards, did not give a reason for Abbott’s exit but said that it was “more important than ever that we find relevant new ways to grow our business.”
In early December, Abbot seemed to signal his openness to Hallmark featuring same-sex relationships and themes.
“I’m gay, where are the same-sex movies?” Abbott was asked during a Hollywood Reporter podcast. “Have you talked about incorporating stories about same-sex couples at Christmas?”
“We’re open to really any type of movie of any type of relationship,” Abbott responded.
Then later that month, Hallmark initially decided to stop airing four commercials for the wedding planning website Zola.com after a backlash from conservative viewers. The ad that sparked the backlash ended with two women, one in a white suit and the other in a white dress, kissing. The other ads that were pulled also featured same-sex kisses.
But Hallmark quickly announced that pulling the ads was the “wrong decision” after the channel came in for criticism from several celebrities and the homosexual lobby.
Celebrities William Shatner and Ellen DeGeneres both took to Twitter in order to criticize the “family friendly” channel.
One Million Moms confirmed that it had spoken to Abbott when it first became aware of the ads and called for them to be stopped from airing. The pro-family group said that Abbott had said that “the advertisement aired in error, but he was informed about it after hearing from concerned 1MM supporters.”
Shortly afterwards Hallmark Cards president and CEO Mike Perry announced that the commercials would be allowed to air once more.
“The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused,” he said. “Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision[.] … We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.”
One Million Moms told LifeSiteNews at the time that it was “extremely disappointed that the Hallmark Channel caved under pressure.”