Hallmark Channel president steps down in wake of same-sex ad controversy
The president and chief executive of the Hallmark Channel is stepping down a month after the company faced backlash over a later-reversed decision to pull an ad showing a same-sex couple getting married.
The company announced Bill Abbott’s resignation in a press release Tuesday, saying he would be stepping down from his post after 11 years working for Crown Media, the cable network’s parent company.
“I want to thank Bill for his many years of success and contributions to Crown Media and wish him continued success,” Mike Perry, the president and chief executive of Hallmark Cards, said in a statement.
The release did not provide a reason for Abbott’s resignation, but Perry said he will start to search for his replacement.
The management change comes after the channel was immersed in controversy last month when it removed an ad for wedding-planning website Zola showing a lesbian couple getting married after a petition from conservative groups requested it be taken off the channel.
Perry later announced the reversal and called the initial move “the wrong decision.”
“We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused,” he said at the time.
The Hallmark Channel has managed to hold on to its audience in a time when many cable networks are losing viewers due to streaming services, The Los Angeles Times noted.
Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said in a statement that Abbott’s departure shows that “opposing equality isn’t just wrong, it’s bad for business.”
“Companies and their leaders must continue to provide visibility to LGBTQ people across the nation and speak out for equality,” David added.
Updated on Jan. 23 at 10:53 a.m.