City-parish contract fails to require Miss USA global broadcast

A contract Baton Rouge officials inked with the Miss USA pageant to provide $280,000 in city-parish funds to lure the event back to the city never required a global broadcast. But supporting documents provided to the Metro Council when they approved the allocation in April show the estimated value of the broadcast at $20 million, according to records obtained this morning by Daily Report.

The return on Baton Rouge’s investment—which is just a portion of the $545,000 in total provided to the pageant by other agencies in Louisiana—was thrown into question on Monday when NBC announced it will not be airing the pageant live from Baton Rouge on July 12 as scheduled.

“Per the Miss USA organization, the estimated valuation for the telecast of this prime time show in the U.S. plus the transmission to approximated 60-70 countries is $20 million,” reads supporting documents with the resolution the Metro Council approved in April.

Mayor Kip Holden and Visit Baton Rouge President Paul Arrigo have yet to publicly comment on NBC’s announcement on Monday, which came in response to comments that pageant co-owner and GOP candidate Donald Trump made about Mexican immigrants when announcing his candidacy recently.

Metro Councilman John Delgado, an attorney, told Daily Report on Monday that he doesn’t see any avenue for Baton Rouge to attempt to withdraw the $280,000 it pledged to the pageant—$230,000 of which is to come from the general fund and another $50,000 to come from Mayor Kip Holden’s economic development program budget.

The contract obtained by Daily Report this morning appears to support his statement. Although the agreement opens by saying, “Whereas, in consideration of the substantial economic impact and positive publicity generated for the City of Baton Rouge and Parish of East Baton Rouge…”, nowhere in the three-page contract does it stipulate the funding is contingent on a television broadcast by NBC.

Monday’s announcement from NBC came on the heels of an announcement last week by New York-based Univision that it was pulling the plug on its Spanish-language coverage of the pageant on its UniMas network. The UniMas telecast would have been the first in a five-year contract with the pageant.

This year marks the second straight that the Miss USA Pageant is being held in Baton Rouge. Last year’s event took place before a sold-out Baton Rouge River Center crowd and was aired live on NBC. About 70 countries saw the broadcast, which included many flattering shots of the Capital City, as Visit Baton Rouge notes in supporting documents to the resolution for funding approved by the Metro Council.

“During the broadcast, Baton Rouge and the surrounding area received 8 minutes of feature videos…,” reads the document. “The videos featured the city’s exciting economic growth, including the revitalization of downtown Baton Rouge, as well as a preview of the future IBM Service Center: Baton Rouge and the proposed 27-acre Water Campus riverfront research park.”

—Steve Sanoski

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