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Univision Cancels Miss USA Telecast After Trump's Immigration Comments

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

A different set of judges will crown a new Miss USA next month, but you will not see this coronation on Univision. The Spanish-language network has canceled the telecast after Donald Trump made controversial comments about Mexican immigrants. He is part-owner of the Miss Universe Organization, which produces Miss USA. Trump made his comments while announcing his presidential campaign. Alexandra Starr from NPR's Code Switch team reports.

ALEXANDRA STARR, BYLINE: If you follow politics or watch television, you have probably heard Donald Trump's comments about immigrants who come from Mexico and other Latin American countries.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD 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.

STARR: Despite that small note of conciliation, Trump's comments did not sit well with Latino immigrants, or with the television network many of them watch, Univision, the largest Spanish-language broadcaster in the U.S. In a statement, the company said that based on Trump's remarks, it was ending its relationship with the Miss Universe Organization. That means it will no longer broadcast the Miss Universe or Miss USA pageants.

SONIA ORTIZ: I back up Univision.

STARR: Sonia Ortiz is a resident of East Harlem. She says she's a community activist and a native of Puerto Rico.

ORTIZ: I think they're doing the right thing because all their viewers are Latinos.

STARR: And it's not just the viewers. Two Latino television stars have announced they will not be working with Trump. Rosalyn Sanchez and Christian de la Fuentes, both actors on the Lifetime TV show "Devious Maids" announced they are pulling out of co-hosting the Spanish-language simulcast of the Miss USA pageant. Not all Univision fans support the network's decision to sever ties with Trump. Juan Rosa, another Puerto Rican resident of East Harlem, points out that viewers like himself will miss seeing the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants.

JUAN ROSA: (Through interpreter) The public is missing something they really like. They should find another way to make him see that what he said doesn't make any sense.

STARR: The decision not to broadcast the pageants means Trump could take a hit economically. Last year, more than 2 million people watched the Miss Universe pageant on Univision. Robert Thompson is a professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University.

ROBERT THOMPSON: This is a operation that gets very, very big ratings, and when it's taken off the table, that's a lot of people who aren't going to see it.

STARR: Trump has announced that he plans to sue Univision for breach of contract. On Twitter, he said the company had backed out of their partnership because he exposed the terrible trade deals the U.S. makes with Mexico. Professor Thompson believes the controversy may end up being a good deal for Trump himself. He calls the comments calculated and says they fit the Trump brand.

THOMPSON: This is really consistent with that brand, which is a guy that goes out there and says outrageous, sometimes kooky and sometimes offensive kinds of things.

STARR: Trump will have more opportunities to broadcast that brand on the campaign trail. Alexandra Starr, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.