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Miss America Loves TLC Shift

New York -- Miss America says she’s pleased next year’s competition will be televised on TLC.

“I think it will be a great partnership. It’s a multiyear contract and it’s a multimillion dollar contract,’’ Miss America 2007 Lauren Nelson, of Lawton, Okla., said on Wednesday. “I think it will be good for the pageant. I think it will be good for TLC.”

Nelson visited the Multichannel News offices here, speaking out on behalf of her flagship issue, Internet safety. She has testified on Capitol Hill on the issue; and has made roughly four or five public appearances weekly, since assuming the crown in January.

Part of that public work, which involves 20,000 miles a month of travel, she says, is to try and help raise the ratings of the pageant.

“That’s what we’re trying to do right now,” she said. “As much as we can make Miss America visible during the year, and not just the first week after she’s crowned, not just during that media blitz, the more people are going to care about the Miss America organization. I think we’ve done a lot of work in that aspect.”

The Miss America pageant, as a TV spectacle, has been in steep decline for years. It drew 27 million viewers the first time on television, in 1954; it drew a reported 7.1 million viewers to ABC in 2004, half the audience it had in 1997 when it moved over from NBC.

ABC then dropped it, and CMT aired the 2006 pageant, when the venue shifted to Las Vegas from Atlantic City, N.J. CMT’s initial airing drew a reported 2.4 million viewers, and the Viacom-owned network dropped it, too.

Discovery Communications-owned TLC acquired telecast rights through 2010 and plans to add a reality show following the contestants as they make their way to next January’s event. "Miss America's move to TLC will give it the proper promotion and attention it deserves,” pageant organization chairman Sam Haskell III said in a release on Monday.

Meanwhile, Nelson continues to promote the event, traveling virtually nonstop: she said her sister would be helping her out, for instance, by bringing clothes to her at a stop in Atlanta.