The longtime CEO of Crown Media, the parent company of Hallmark Channel, is on the outs after 11 years in his position — and the timing is raising some eyebrows.
No explanation has been given for Bill Abbott's departure from the company, but the news comes five weeks after Hallmark suffered serious negative press that quickly spread across social media. The channel was widely criticized for yanking a commercial that depicted a same-sex couple among other heterosexual couples.
Crown Media pulled the Zola ad after a conservative group called for a boycott, but after backlash to the removal gained traction online, the decision was reversed and an apology was issued.
It's unclear whether the hotly-debated debacle has any relationship to Abbott's exit from the company. Mike Perry, the president and CEO of Hallmark Cards, Inc., issued a statement confirming the news and alluding to a need for "relevant" change.
"In a time when there is immense competition among television networks and streaming services, it is more important than ever that we find relevant new ways to grow our business and continue to produce high-quality programming that resonates with our growing audience," Perry said in a statement.
Perry was the exec who publicly accounted for the commercial fallout, saying his team had been "agonizing" over the situation, "as we've seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused."
"Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision ... As the CEO of Hallmark, I am sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused," Perry added.