LA Office Cuts Payment To Pageant, Citing Fewer TV Viewers

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana's lieutenant governor says the state tourism office is cutting in half the money it committed to pay the 2015 Miss USA pageant because the pageant was not carried on NBC or Univision as had been planned.

         Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne said in a Thursday news release that the pageant, held in Baton Rouge, was a success but the state had committed $50,000 to the pageant organization based on expected television coverage. Dardenne said the state, though grateful the Reelz satellite and cable channel aired the pageant, decided a $25,000 payment is a more appropriate taxpayer expenditure.

         NBC and Univision dropped plans to air the contest after pageant co-owner Donald Trump's remarks about immigrants as he launched his presidential campaign. A pageant official did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

         The Nielsen company said fewer than 1 million people watched the pageant his year, down from 5.6 million viewers on NBC in 2014.

         Dardenne's news release did not mention Trump by name, nor did it get into the reasons broadcasters abandoned the pageant.

         "The Miss Universe Organization handled the situation in a positive manner," Dardenne said. "From start to finish, the pageant officials and contestants were professional and gracious visitors. We hope they enjoyed their taste of Louisiana."

         He also said a $15,000 payment to the pageant organization, committed by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, will be made.




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