Crown COO FitzPatrick Resigns

Less than one month after being passed over for president, Paul FitzPatrick, chief operating officer of Hallmark Channel’s parent, resigned, officials said Tuesday.

Cable-industry veteran FitzPatrick has been with Crown Media Holdings, the owner and operator of the network, since 2000, serving in his current role -- COO and executive vice president -- since 2001.

FitzPatrick had been one of the candidates being considered to fill the slot of president and CEO of Crown -- he had basically been running Hallmark Channel since David Evans left in June. But Oct. 4, former Court TV chairman and CEO Henry Schleiff was appointed Crown’s president and CEO.

FitzPatrick’s exact departure date has yet to be determined, according to a Hallmark Channel spokeswoman.

FitzPatrick had a three-year contract with Crown, effective Sept. 25, 2003, according to a May 25 proxy statement. So that pact just expired last month.

The agreement provided for an annual base salary of $590,000 for the first year of the term, increasing by 5% or the Consumer Price Index, whichever was greater, during each subsequent year of the term of the agreement.

He was also entitled to receive a bonus at the end of each calendar year of the term of the agreement of up to 20% of his then-salary rate, 30% of which was discretionary and 70% of which was subject to Crown reaching certain levels of revenue and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, debt and amortization).

“Paul has made tremendous contributions to Hallmark Channel,” Schleiff said in a prepared statement. “Starting with just 16 million [subscribers], Paul’s persistence and expertise were the driving force in expanding Hallmark Channel’s reach into 75 million homes today. Our company is fortunate to have had someone with his talent and commitment, and we wish him success in his future endeavors.”

In addition to his role in overseeing Hallmark Channel’s distribution, network operations, information technology and human resources, FitzPatrick was Crown’s principal liaison with industry associations and Capitol Hill on matters of public policy.

He was also responsible for the launch of the company’s second 24-hour linear channel, Hallmark Movie Channel.

Prior to joining Crown, FitzPatrick served as COO of The Golf Channel, and he was president, CEO and founder of News Talk Television.

During his career, FitzPatrick was also president and COO of The Weather Channel and of C-SPAN.