EXCLUSIVE: Crown Media Family Networks’ SVP Barbara Fisher, who has overseen original programming for the company’s Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel since June 2007, will leave her post in a couple of weeks. For the past five years, Fisher shepherded the development and production of all original scripted programming for both networks –- movies, miniseries, specials — reporting to Michelle Vicary, EVP Programming. A rep for Crown Media confirmed Fisher’s exit, adding, “We have an incredible amount of respect for Barbara; she is multi-talented, and we hope to collaborate with her somehow down the road.” While the flagship Hallmark Channel was down slightly in the ratings year-to-year — finishing 2011 with 814,000 viewers in primetime, down 5% from 2010 following double-digit declines in 2010 and 2009 — its offshoot Hallmark Movie Channel has been g’rowing albeit from a small base. Last year, it averaged 197,000 viewers in primetime, up 45% from 2010. Additionally, Hallmark Channel had a strong finish to 2011, delivering its highest-rated weekend (11/26-27) and single day (11/27) in history. Fisher’s exit comes two weeks after Hallmark Channel’s upfront presentation where the network, which had built its brand on original movies, announced its foray into scripted original series with the green light to movies/backdoor pilots Cedar Cove and When Calls The Heart. Before joining Hallmark, Fisher consulted for National Geographic entertainment as a producer and served as EVP of entertainment at Lifetime entertainment services and president of Universal Studios network programming.
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