The independent U.S. cable network REELZ will telecast the Miss USA pageant on July 12, the company announced on Thursday, stepping in after NBC dropped plans to broadcast the show because of inflammatory remarks about Mexican immigrants made by co-owner and U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“The decision on the part of REELZ to acquire the rights to the MISS USA Pageant was based on our belief that this special event, and the women who compete in it, are an integral part of American tradition,” CEO Stan Hubbard said in a statement.
The fate of the pageant’s English-language broadcast had come into question after Comcast Corp-owned NBC announced on Monday it would no longer air the event “due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants” the company said in a press statement.
Several judges and guests have also scrapped plans to take part in the event.
Trump, in announcing on June 16 that he was seeking the Republican Party nomination for the 2016 presidential election, described migrants from Mexico to the United States as drug-runners and rapists.
“They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some I assume are good people,” the billionaire developer said in opening his campaign at Trump Tower on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue.
Spanish-language Univision [UVN.UL] last week canceled its contract to broadcast the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, co-owned by Trump, calling his remarks insulting.
Trump filed a $500 million lawsuit against Univision on Tuesday, saying the company was trying to stifle his freedom of speech by backing out of its plans to air the show.
The Mexican media company Televisa said it will not send a contestant to the next Miss Universe pageant.
Trump, a real estate mogul and reality television star, has stood behind his comments. He called NBC’s decision to sever its ties with the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants “weak” and “foolish.”
REELZ, which describes itself as a leading independent cable and satellite general entertainment network, said the Miss USA pageant will be telecast as scheduled from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Owned by Hubbard Media Group and headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the network reaches 70 million homes, it said in a press release.
The Miss USA show that aired on a Sunday in June 2014 averaged about 5.6 million viewers, according to Nielsen.
(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in Los Angeles; editing by Ralph Boulton)