A sweep of Hallmark Channel's U.S. and overseas operation is sweeping out
president and CEO Lana Corbi. The former Fox Broadcasting Co. executive has
only had the job since last October, replacing ousted CEO Margaret Loesch. The
move comes as part of a restructuring of Hallmark's operations, including the
layoffs of 130 people, or 30 percent of the company's worldwide staff.
Most of the moves affect the international operations, but it also eliminates
the corporate structure. Crown Media Holdings Inc. CEO David Evans is taking over Corbi's
duties at the U.S. network. "There wasn't room for both of us," Evans said, adding, "there are no performance issues at all" in the decision to push out
Since converting the network from Odyssey Channel in August 2001, Hallmark
Channel has sharply increased U.S. distribution, but its rating performance has
been less impressive.
During September, Hallmark's Nielsen Media Research household ratings fell 17
percent to 0.5, while viewership in the network's 25-through-54 target demo fell 19
percent to an average of 97,000 viewers. The demos are weak despite Hallmark's
sharp increase in distribution to 47 million U.S. homes.
Hallmark parent Crown will give responsibility for localized
programming, acquisitions, marketing and advertising sales to regional staff in
Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Many of those functions had been run out of
U.S. offices. In Latin America, the company plans to team up with a local media
The company expects to take $75 million to $80 million in charges, including
severance costs averaging more than $38,000 per axed worker. That presumably is
skewed by sizable payments to senior executives. Securities and Exchange
Commission filings show that Corbi, for example, has been making at least
$625,000 per year and is owed at least $1 million under her contract.