Donald Trump has found a TV home for his Miss USA beauty pageant with cable network Reelz, after both NBC and Univision Communications bailed on plans to air the program following the mogul’s remarks about Latino immigrants.
The pact is a small victory for Trump, who in the past week has lost his deals with NBC, Univision and Macy’s. The companies cut their ties to the real-estate developer, GOP presidential hopeful and erstwhile TV personality after he called Mexican and other Hispanic immigrants “killers and rapists” who are “bringing crime” into the U.S. in a speech.
“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,” Reelz CEO Stan E. Hubbard said in a statement. “As one of only a few independent networks, we decided to exercise our own voice and committed ourselves to bringing this pageant to American viewers everywhere.”
Reelz, in announcing the pickup, did not address Trump’s controversial remarks. Trump has filed a lawsuit against Univision demanding $500 million in the wake of the media company’s decision to drop Miss USA; Univision called the lawsuit “factually false and legally ridiculous.”
In addition to the loss of its previous broadcast partners, two NBC-affliated personalities — Cheryl Burke and MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts — withdrew from their roles as co-hosts of the Miss USA pageant. Currently, Miss USA lists Jeannie Mai, a fashion expert and stylist who has appeared on NBC’s “Today” and other TV programs, as hosting the 2015 pageant.
The 54th annual Miss USA pageant will air on Reelz on Sunday, July 12, starting at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT, live from Baton Rouge, La.
The Miss Universe Organization, which runs the Miss USA pageant, said on Tuesday the event would be live-streamed on its website following the NBC and Univision pullouts. The company, a joint venture between Trump and NBCUniversal, also owns the Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA pageants.
According to Reelz, the network is distributed to 70 million U.S. homes via DirecTV, Dish Network, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS TV, AT&T U-verse channels and smaller cable operators. The independent network, based in Albuquerque, N.M., is focused on entertainment and reality programming, with shows including “The Kennedys,” “Hollywood Hillbillies,” “Beverly Hills Pawn” and “Hollywood Scandals.”