NBC is evaluating its commitment to the upcoming Miss USA pageant hours after Univision’s decision to drop the program over comments made by Donald Trump, a source tells The Hollywood Reporter.
“Donald Trump’s opinions do not represent those of NBC, and we do not agree with his positions on a number of issues, including his recent comments on immigration,” the network said in a statement late Thursday.
Preparation is already underway for the live event, which is set to broadcast from Baton Rouge, La., on July 12.
NBC and Univision have aired the Miss USA pageant for the past 12 years. The Miss Universe Organization, which presents the Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss Universe pageants, is a joint venture between Trump and NBCUniversal that dates back to 2002. NBCUniversal currently has a five-year, $13.5 million contract with Trump.
Univision announced Thursday that it is ending its business relationship with Trump’s Miss Universe Organization based on what it deemed “insulting remarks about Mexican immigrants.” The decision was made by Univision Communications president and CEO Randy Falco, who felt compelled to sever ties with Trump given that 80 percent of Univision’s 4,000 employees are Hispanic.
In an interview with Politico Thursday, Trump threatened to sue Univision for defaulting on what he called an “ironclad” agreement. “They have no termination rights whatsoever,” he told the site.
NBC’s lawyers are currently in discussion with lawyers for Univision.
The Miss USA pageant has been a modest ratings performer for the network in recent years. Last year’s competition averaged a 1.4 rating among adults 18-49, flat in the demo from the year prior. Trump’s other NBC program, Celebrity Apprentice, is a very different story. The most recent season was a surprise ratings hit, averaging a 2.4 rating despite the nearly yearlong gap between the start of production in early 2014 and the season’s debut in January 2015.
NBC’s hesitance to cut the Miss USA telecast is likely more about managing their relationship with Trump than about any stakes with the pageant itself.
The controversy dates back to Trump’s criticized June 16 speech announcing his presidency in which he referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and as people bringing drugs and crime into the U.S.
“The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems. … When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” said Trump. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Trump’s bid for the White House already has put a strain on his various TV ventures. Fox News ended his weekly segment on Fox and Friends immediately after his presidential announcement. NBC said it planned to “re-evaluate” Trump’s role as host of Celebrity Apprentice after he announced his run, but the network said in a statement: “We are committed to this franchise.”
This article was first published by The Hollywood Reporter