Crown Media CEO Steps Down

May 10, 2006  •  Post A Comment

David Evans, president and CEO of Hallmark Channel parent Crown Media Holdings, said Wednesday that he is stepping down in June to pursue other interests.

The cable television operator also said it narrowed its first-quarter loss to $47.2 million as the cable channel pulled in more advertising dollars and higher payments from cable and satellite companies.

Crown said in a statement that Paul FitzPatrick, executive VP and chief operating officer, will assume Mr. Evans’ duties until a new CEO is named. The company said it has hired executive search firm Spencer Stuart to find a replacement for Mr. Evans, who had led the company for seven years. Mr. Evans’ last day will be June 16.

Mr. Evans’ decision to leave comes less than a month after Crown failed to find a buyer for Hallmark Channel. The company had put the network up for sale in August, but a number of potential suitors reportedly balked at Crown’s asking price, leading the company to take itself off the market.

Crown is looking to attract younger audiences to help continue the channel’s ratings and advertising growth. The company currently attracts women 25 to 54, with executives acknowledging that a good chunk of their viewers are at the older end of that scale.

Meantime, Crown said continued growth in the number of homes able to access the channel helped to drive up advertising revenue. The company’s loss was 45 cents a share, down from 49 cents a year ago, when Crown reported a loss of $50.9 million. Revenue rose 11 percent to $45 million.

The company said Hallmark Channel was available in 71.9 million households at the end of the first quarter, up from 67.7 million a year ago. That helped drive advertising revenue up 13 percent to $37.9 million. Revenue from cable and satellite companies rose 11 percent to $6.2 million.