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Univision cuts ties with Donald Trump, Miss USA pageant over Mexican remarks

Spanish-language media giant Univision is cutting business ties with Donald Trump, saying the real estate mogul made "insulting remarks" about Mexican immigrants when he announced that he was running for president.

Univision said Thursday that it would not air the Miss USA pageant, as scheduled, on July 12.  The company said it was severing its relationship with the Miss Universe Organization, which is part-owned by Trump.

When Trump kicked off his presidential campaign last week, he lambasted U.S. government efforts to secure the U.S.-Mexican border.

“The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems,” Trump told supporters last week during his nearly 45-minute speech at Trump Tower. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. ... They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us.

"They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists," Trump went on, adding, "And some, I assume, are good people.”

Univision is the largest Spanish-language media company in the United States. 

"At Univision, we see first-hand the work ethic, love for family, strong religious values and the important role Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans have had and will continue to have in building the future of our country," the company said in its statement.

"We will not be airing the Miss USA pageant on July 12 or working on any other projects tied to the Trump Organization."

Univision declined to comment on financial ramifications for dropping the Miss USA pageant. Univision in January had signed a new five-year deal for Spanish-language broadcast rights for the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants, which have performed particularly well on Spanish-language TV networks.

Univision had already paid a $2.5-million fee to cover its commitment this year for the pageant rights, according to a person familiar with the arrangement who was not authorized to publicly discuss details.

The extent of Univision's financial exposure was unclear. Univision's five-year contract with the Miss Universe Organization was valued at more than $13 million.

Trump could sue Univision for breach of contract, and one of his lawyers on Thursday indicated that was a strong possibility.

"We intend to pursue all legal rights and remedies available to us pursuant to the terms of the license agreement," Michael Cohen, Trump's special counsel, told the Los Angeles Times.

Trump earlier this week sought to clarify his remarks, saying he has great respect for Mexico and its people. Trump blamed the media for trying to distort his comments.

"I have many successful business relationships with Mexican companies and employ, and am close friends with, many Mexican people," Trump said in a written statement. "The disappointment I expressed relates to our incompetent politicians and their failed trade and immigration policies."

Trump on Thursday accused the Mexican government of putting pressure on Univision to back out of its deal with the Miss Universe Organization.

"Mexican leadership has been doing serious damage to the United States by outnegotiating our representatives," Trump said in a statement. "They are taking our jobs, taking our money and at the same time killing us at the border with illegals from all over the world freely flowing into our country."

NBC has the English-language TV rights to the two pageants. NBC is expected to go forward with its July 12 broadcast of the Miss USA contest, although the network sought to distance itself from the controversy.

“Donald Trump's opinions do not represent those of NBC, and we do not agree with his positions on a number of issues, including his recent comments on immigration,” an NBC spokeswoman said in a statement late Thursday.

In Mexico City, a man protested Trump's remarks by making a large piñata that was intended to look like Trump with wild hair and a big mouth. One Latin music star, J Balvin, who was scheduled to perform during the Miss USA pageant said this week that he was dropping out.

J Balvin "can no longer in good conscience agree to take part in an event that is overseen by and creates a profit for Donald Trump while Mr. Trump attacks the hard-working Latino immigrant community with hateful political rhetoric," a representative of the artist said.

Univision noted that Univision News and the local news bureaus would continue to provide coverage of presidential candidates, including Trump.  No decision has been reached on whether Trump would be included in any political debates that Univision has been organizing.

Twitter: @MegJamesLAT

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

3:44 p.m. This article was updated to include a statement from NBC.

9:38 a.m. This article was updated to include statements from Donald Trump, comments from his attorney and a representative for the musical artist J Balvin.

The first version of this article was published at 8:10 a.m.

 

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