ABC is dropping Miss America, leaving the beauty pageant without a network television deal for the first time in 50 years.
ABC, which had carried the annual telecast since 1997 with a series of one-year contracts, notified Miss America Organization officials that they would not pick up the option this year, Arthur McMaster, the organization's acting president and chief executive, said Wednesday.
"This is a good day for the Miss America Organization," he said. "We are now free to pursue other parties who have expressed interest in our organization."
The pageant has suffered steadily declining ratings in recent years. An audience that numbered 85 million in 1960 shrank to 10.3 million last year. And last month, when Deidre Downs won the title, the telecast drew a record-low 9.8 million viewers.