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Investors Blast ShopNBC For Slumping Sales, Exec Firings

ValueVision Media, parent of ShopNBC, came under fire from angry investors Monday for the company’s declining sales and the recent firing of four top executives, including CEO Rene Aiu.

ValueVision’s board took the heat during a fiscal second-quarter conference call, after reporting the company had seen a 26% drop in revenue, to $142 million, and a net loss of $15.7 million, compared with a net loss of $5.4 million in the year-ago quarter.

“It’s a shame that you are not hiring an outside investment banker to put the company up for sale,” Debra Fine, of Fine Capital Partners, said during a question-and-answer session.

ValueVision actually announced its second-quarter earnings last Friday, the same day that it fired president and CEO Rene Aiu, who had only been with the company since March.

The board replaced her with John Buck, who had served as the company’s interim CEO from November 2007 until Aiu appointment five-plus months ago. The company also named QVC veteran Keith Stewart president and chief operating officer.

In addition to Aiu, three other officials left the company: Glenn Leidahl, chief operating officer; Terry Curtis, senior vice president of customer analysis and sales planning; and John Gunder, senior vice president of media and on-air sales.

Buck acknowledged that shareholders were losing patience with the company, and he apologized for its performance.

“The results for the past six months are unacceptable,” Buck said. “I’m sorry for the current situation.”

Officials blamed the tough economy, its high distribution costs and merchandise return rate, at 33% to 35%, in part for its financial woes.

A number of ShopNBC’s carriage deals expire at the end of the year, but the network recently signed an extended carriage deal with a Top 5 cable operator, according to Buck.