Following his racist comments about undocumented Mexican immigrants, NBC ended its business relationship with Donald Trump earlier this week

By Amanda Michelle Steiner
Updated July 02, 2015 08:40 AM
Advertisement
Credit: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty

Following NBC’s decision to drop the Miss USA telecast from the network in advance of its planned July 12 airdate, the Reelz network has picked up the baton.

“The decision on the part of Reelz to acquire the rights to the Miss USA pageant was based on our belief that this special event, and the women who compete in it, are an integral part of the American tradition,” says Stan E. Hubbard, CEO of Reelz, in a statement released to PEOPLE.

“As one of only a few independent networks, we decided to exercise our own voice and committed ourselves to bringing this pageant to American viewers everywhere,” the statement continues. “For us, this decision is about the dreams of the contestants who come from all walks of life across the United States, the city of Baton Rouge that has proudly come together to host this pageant and the viewers who will be watching and celebrating its 54th year on television.”

It is not yet clear whether Reelz – home to Beverly Hills Pawn, Hollywood Hillbillies, Polka Kings and more – will also acquire the Miss Universe pageant, which NBC also dropped.

Miss Universe and Miss USA fall under the umbrella of the Miss Universe Organization, a venture co-owned by Donald Trump and NBCUniversal. NBC’s decision to pull the pageants from the air came after Trump’s incendiary comments about undocumented Mexican immigrants during a June 16 speech announcing his candidacy for president.

On the steps of Trump Tower in New York City in front of assorted press and like-minded supporters, Trump, 69, accused Mexican immigrants of “bringing drugs” and “bringing crime” into the United States, and further accused them of being “rapists.” (“And some, I assume, are good people,” he added.)

Univision – the largest Spanish-language broadcaster in America – also pulled the Spanish-language simulcast from air, calling Trump’s comments “insulting” in a statement.

Now, the real estate tycoon and presidential hopeful is suing Univision for $500 million, a lawsuit that the network claims is “factually false and legally ridiculous.”

This isn’t the first time that Reelz has swooped in to save a program from extinction. In 2011, the History Channel – owned by A&E Networks – dropped its planned miniseries The Kennedys, allegedly due to pressure from the famous family, according to Joel Surnow, the series’ executive producer. After many other networks passed on U.S. broadcast rights, Reelz picked up The Kennedys and aired all eight episodes in April 2011.