NBC's decision to dump Miss USA could hurt Baton Rouge economically

NBC's decision to dump Miss USA could hurt Baton Rouge economically

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The feud between Donald Trump and NBC could be an economic blow for Baton Rouge.

NBC announced Monday that they will not air the Miss USA Pageant that is being held in Baton Rouge this year. NBC's decision comes days after Univision also decided to drop the broadcast in response to Trump's incendiary comments about Latinos and immigrants during his campaign launch.

With NBC and Univision no longer airing the pageant, the Capital City will not receive any of the national and international exposure the television broadcast brought to the area last year.

"We are caught in the crossfire here and we are the ones getting hurt," said East Baton Rouge Metro Councilman John Delgado.

The EBR Metro Council spent more than $200,000 to incentivize bringing the Miss USA broadcast to Louisiana. Their contribution is one part of a more than $500,000 combined offer provided by the mayor's office, the council, the state's tourism board and Visit Baton Rouge.

With hotels full and restaurants getting lots of business, Delgado says they will recoup their initial investment. However, they will not likely get all the bang for their buck.

"We spent the money and are not able to get exactly what we had anticipated," Delgado said.

The telecast provides lots of free advertising for Baton Rouge. The broadcast showcases not only the pageant stage, but it also shows off the city in which the pageant takes place. Pageant participants are shown eating at local restaurants and going sight-seeing around Baton Rouge.

Jan Moller, director of the Louisiana Budget Project said without NBC "we're really throwing our money away."

"The main reason public officials like these kinds of incentive programs is that it tells Baton Rouge's story to the rest of the country," he said.

At the state level, Louisiana could lose more than a million dollars in tax revenue to the Miss USA pageant, despite it not being on TV.

Like last year, Miss USA applied for film tax credits from the state. They received approximately $1.25 million last year.

Chris Stelly, head of the Louisiana Entertainment which is part of the Louisiana Economic Development program, said in a statement that Miss USA has not submitted a new plan for how they will distribute the program. The statement reads:

"State law requires a national or international multi-market distribution plan (not actual distribution) which this production provided our office at the time they applied to the motion picture incentive program. It is too early to tell if they have or will obtain alternative methods of distribution and they have not notified our office of an updated plan. If that does occur in the future, then we'll evaluate their submission at that time and make a determination accordingly." 

The impact of NBC dropping out extends beyond Baton Rouge. The girls participating in the pageant lose out on their time in the spotlight.

"They're being punished for something Mr. Trump said," said Delgado. "Baton Rouge loses out, the women competing in this lose out, and Donald Trump still continues to get his face plastered on TV so he wins."

Trump released the following statement Monday in response to the news from NBC. Among other things, Trump called NBC "weak."

"We must have strong borders and not let illegal immigrants enter the United States. As has been stated continuously in the press, people are pouring across our borders unabated. Public reports routinely state great amounts of crime are being committed by illegal immigrants. This must be stopped and it must be stopped now. Long ago I told NBC that I would not being doing The Apprentice because I am running for President in order to Make our Country Great Again.

Miss Universe Organization released a statement Monday night saying they are "disheartened by recent events but the show will go on" as scheduled in Baton Rouge on July 12.

Copyright 2015 WAFB. All rights reserved.