Miss America gets some TLC

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In her first major programming move since taking the reigns at Discovery Communications' TLC, new president and general manager Angela Shapiro-Mathes has acquired the rights to the Miss America Pageant for the next three years.

The pageant -- one of TV's longest-running franchises -- had been without a TV home since cable channel CMT dropped it in March. (HR 3/30).

TLC has inked a deal with the Miss America Organization to telecast Miss America Pageant through 2010, beginning with the upcoming event on Saturday January 26, 2008, which will air live from Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas.

"This collaboration is a tremendous opportunity for us to present this scholarship pageant and great American tradition to our viewers with a contemporary production style unique to our channel," Shapiro-Mathes said.

TLC, best known for such unscripted series as "Trading Spaces" and "While You Were Out," will launch a reality series in conjunction with the pageant that will follow the 52 contestants as they prepare for the competition.

"The series will culminate in the ultimate pay-off -- the Miss America 2008 Pageant itself," Shapiro-Mathes said.

Sam Haskell, chairman of the Board for The Miss America Organization, called TLC "the perfect partner to host our pageant."

"Miss America's move to TLC will give it the proper promotion and attention it deserves," he said.

The 86-year-old Miss America Pageant first lost its TV home in 2004 when ABC opted not to continue its seven-year relationship with the contest after record low ratings. CMT then picked up the pageant -- which was moved from Atlantic City, N.J. to Las Vegas -- with hopes of bringing in a younger audience to the telecast and even aired a companion reality series centered on the pageant.

This year's Miss America telecast on CMT averaged 2.4 million total viewers Jan. 29.

Donald Trump and the Miss Universe Organization's Miss USA competitions continue to air on NBC, which earlier this year renewed it as well as the Miss Universe pageant for three more years, effective in 2008.
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