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Former Hallmark exec Bill Abbott launching two new family-friendly networks

Bill Abbott, former chief executive at Crown Media Family Networks, which produces content for the Hallmark Channel.
Bill Abbott, former chief executive at Crown Media Family Networks, is launching two new family-friendly networks with his new company, GAC Media. Pic credit: @ImageCollect.com/Carrie-nelson

The former chief executive of Crown Media Family Networks, Bill Abbott, has announced the launch of two new family-friendly cable channels.

GAC Media will begin airing content at the end of September on two networks, GAC Family and GAC Living.

“The launch of GAC Family and GAC Living is the next phase in our strategy to bolster the company’s portfolio with networks that deliver on the promise of safe and entertaining storytelling that enriches lives,” Abbott said in a statement released by the company.

Abbott left Crown Media in January 2020, following a controversy over the network’s decision to air an ad that included a kiss between two women. The commercial, for the wedding registry site Zola, aired in December 2019. It was soon targeted by the group One Million Moms, who got 25,000 people to sign a petition demanding the ad get pulled.

Hallmark informed Zola that its remaining six ads would not air, saying the same-sex kiss violated company policy.

The network then found itself under siege from LGBTQ+ advocates, including Ellen DeGeneres.

The network reversed its decision, aired the commercials, and released the following statement, “The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused. Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision. We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.”

Abbott’s departure

Soon after, parent company Hallmark Cards announced that Abbott was leaving. In his 11 years with the company, he had assumed the chief executive position with Crown Media Family Networks, which oversaw programming for Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, and Hallmark Drama.

Neither Abbott nor the company would comment on the reasons for his departure. Wonya Lucas took over as CEO in July 2020.

GAC Media

After departing Crown Media, Abbott joined forces with Dallas-based Hicks Equity Partners LLC to form GAC Media. In June 2021, the company announced the purchase of the Great American Country network from Discovery Inc. The Tennessee-based cable network started in 1995 as a country music video channel. It went on to develop TV programs, including Farm Kings and Celebrity Motor Homes.

According to Bloomberg, GAC Media acquired the network for $90 million.

Though specific programming details have not been released, the company said the GAC Family Network will focus on movies and scripted TV series that “celebrate relationships and the emotional connections related to holidays, seasons, and occasions.”

GAC Living will focus on unscripted lifestyle content and will follow the tagline “Life Well Lived.”

The official launch date for the networks is September 27.

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