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Former Hallmark exec hopes to compete with better television programming

GAC Media hopes to rival the Hallmark Channel and become the leader in family television, CEO Bill Abbott says. Abbott formerly was CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, the parent company of the Hallmark Channel.

GAC Media hired Hallmark veteran Candace Cameron Bure to develop, produce and star in movies and television shows. It also has hired at least a dozen Hallmark actors and actresses for its channels, including Danica McKellar, Jen Lilley, Daniel Lissing and Jessica Lowndes.

READ: Hallmark refused to run pro-life ads

“There’s so much need for family content and the market in this space,” Abbott said. “It’s pretty scary, quite frankly, the amount of content that’s out there. The vast majority of content is salacious and is not appropriate for any member of the family.”

Launched in 2021, GAC Living broadcasts original movies and classic TV shows such as “Father Knows Best,” “Bewitched,” “Full House,” “Who’s the Boss?” and “Hazel.”

GAC’s format includes lifestyle programming and is available in approximately 40 million television households.  In 2021, GAC Media acquired RIDE TV, a 24-hour, high-definition television network dedicated to showcasing equestrian sports, culture and lifestyle.

Abbott stepped down from Crown Media in January 2020 following the company’s handling of a commercial featuring a same-sex couple. Its actions angered people on the left and right.

“There isn’t a lot of family content out there,” he said about the entertainment landscape. “If you look in the last 20 years, it would be really hard to find a show that you can watch in its entirety with your family and not have some point that would make you uncomfortable if you’re with a 10-year-old.”

With many modern shows, “you have to run for the remote,” while classic shows are funny, well-written and well-cast,” Abbott said. “And while they’re retro, in many ways, people really do long for nostalgia and long for that type of content that they enjoyed growing up.”

GAC Media has partnered with MPCA, which has been Hallmark’s leading producer for the last eight years.

“We want to be the leader in family television,” Abbott said. “We think that we’ve got assembled a terrific team not only at our networks but also on the talent side, people who are well-known to the audience and whom the audience loves.”

His goal is for GAC Media to be family-friendly, consistent and high-quality. “If we do those three things,” he said, “I think that will deliver on the promise, and we’ll be the leader in the space, and the same would hold true in the lifestyle area.”

In October 2021, GAC Family ran “12 Movies of Christmas,” the network’s holiday celebration, which featured an original Christmas movie each Saturday night.

GAC Family’s first original series will be Season 2 of When Hope Calls, which includes former Hallmark mainstay Lori Loughlin’s return to TV.

When the lineup was announced, viewers noticed that some of Hallmark’s staple stars were included. Since then, numerous Hallmark stars have moved over to GAC Family.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice