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Miss America Hopes for Rejuvenation on Cable

(Posted July 29, 2005 by Leah Yoakum)

 OSHKOSH, Wis., July 17, 2005  Over the course of 84 years, the Miss America pageant transformed itself from an obscure tourist attraction in New Jersey into an American institution.

But the spotlight has been getting smaller.

The state queens crowned in such places as Woonsocket, R.I., Derry, N.H., and Oshkosh, Wis., may have thought they'd be headed to the annual network extravaganza that's been a television staple every September for 50 years.

Well, they were wrong.

Jilted by the networks because of poor ratings, Miss America has been forced to go cable. Country Music Television has ridden to the rescue. It bought the show and plans to stage it, not in September, but in January at a location to be determined.

"We have a niche audience that will follow us," said Robert Arnhym, executive director of the Miss California organization. "No matter where we are, they will find us."

Maybe. But back in 1988, the show had 33 million viewers. Last year, it pulled in only 9 million quite a comedown. And CMT typically has an audience of just 300,000 in prime time.

Additionally, there has been considerable concern within the Miss America organization that officials will be asked to "down-market" the pageant perhaps with reality show-style competitions or more scantily clad contestants. CMT hasn't said anything about what changes it intends to make beyond the delay until January.

Source: ABC

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