ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Unhappy with the caliber of its contestants' talent routines, the Miss America Pageant is cutting back on the number of performances included on the television show.
Traditionally, all 10 semifinalists have performed solo talent segments as part of the contest. This year, only five will, and they will be backed by professional dancers and musicians.
The idea is to improve the telecast and boost its ratings, which have plummeted in recent years, the pageant's chief executive, Robert Beck, said in an interview. Viewers get bored watching the amateur talent, he said.
"Thirty or 40 years ago, there was no other choice. You watched us or flipped to one or two other stations. Today, you can flip to 20 or 30 stations and find great entertainment," he said.
The 79th annual Miss America Pageant will be Sept. 18.