Hallmark topper Evans ankles early

Crown Media took network off the market last month

David Evans has resigned as president and CEO of the Hallmark Channel.

Evans, an Australian native, left three months before the expiration of his contract because his main job — to find a buyer for Hallmark Channel — vanished when Hallmark’s parent company, Crown Media, took the network off the market last month. Crown said that, after nine months of back-and-forth, potential bidders were not offering enough money.

The board of Crown Media has hired the Spencer Stuart headhunting firm to find Evans’ permanent replacement. For now, Paul FitzPatrick, executive VP and chief operating officer, will assume CEO duties.

Evans, 64, who’s based in Los Angeles, was prepared to leave Hallmark last September because his family, including a young daughter, had moved to Australia.

But Crown talked Evans into extending his contract by a year so he could continue to push for a sale of the network. (According to Forbes, Evans pocketed $7.3 million in the most recent fiscal year.)

Hallmark Channel, playing off its family-friendly programming, is having its best year in Nielsen ratings and in advertising revenues.

Evans will stay on at Hallmark until June 16, when he’ll move back to Australia. He serves on the board of John Fairfax Holdings Ltd., Australia’s biggest newspaper group. He’s also a board member of Rupert Murdoch’s British Sky Broadcasting.

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