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TLC Dumps ‘Miss America'; the Pageant Responds (updated)

Cable network not renewing its deal to carry the iconic competition. Can it survive?

There she goes: Miss America and TLC are splitsville.

The Discovery-owned cable network Monday said it would not be continuing its deal to broadcast the iconic beauty competition. TLC had picked it up in 2008 after CMT rescued the show in 2006.

Miss America spent 30 years on NBC, then moved to ABC for an eight-year run that began in 1997. With TLC out of the mix, it’s unclear what might happen next for the annual competition, which has struggled to find a sizable audience since shifting to cable.

"We are happy that TLC was part of the modernization and revitalization of the Miss America pageant," TLC said in a statement Monday. "This year we delivered record ratings, besting any of it’s prior performances on cable. However, our three year deal has concluded and we have chosen not to renew. We wish the Miss America Organization well."

UPDATE 4:30 P.M.

Miss America chief Sam Haskell — yes, the same Southern gentleman who once ran the TV department at William Morris (R.I.P., WMA) — is coming out swinging at TLC’s Dear John announcement regarding its break-up with the pageant.

"They’re not dumping Miss America," Haskell told the AP. "They wanted Miss America — they just didn’t want to pay the same numbers for it that they’d been paying."

Per Haskell, TLC sought a new two-year deal for the show and asked to pay less money for it. Haskell told the wire service Sammy don’t play that.

Plus, he said, other networks — both broadcast and cable — are now interested in Miss America.

"I’m a big boy, I’ve got broad shoulders — I’ll find us another network," Haskell said. "I look at this as an opportunity. It doesn’t depress me in the least. We have a great franchise, we have a great audience, we have a great organization."