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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 August 2006, 08:41 GMT 09:41 UK
US TV show Survivor loses sponsor
Survivor contestants
Contestants will be split into black, white, Asian and Latino "tribes"
General Motors has ended a sponsorship deal with US reality show Survivor, but says it was not influenced by recent controversy surrounding the programme.

The show has attracted criticism because of plans to divide contestants into "tribes" based on race.

A group of New York City officials held a rally last week urging TV company CBS to reconsider the plans.

But a spokeswoman for General Motors said the firm decided to end its deal before the new format was announced.

"I think it's just a coincidence. I know it's not cause and effect," said Ryndee S Carney.

The car manufacturer has decided to focus its advertising on product placement, she added.

"It's difficult to do that with Survivor, given the format of that is a group of people who spend their whole time on an island."

The company will continue to sponsor crime drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which features its products prominently.


It's not racial at all
Mark Burnett
Creator of Survivor
CBS announced last week that contestants on the 13th series of the reality show would be initially segregated into groups of black, white, Asian and Latino contestants before merging later in the series.

Campaign group Hispanics Across America called the programme "racist TV".

And New York councillor John Liu told the Associated Press: "The idea of having a battle of the races is preposterous.

"How could anybody be so desperate for ratings?"

The show's creator, Mark Burnett, has defended the programme, saying people have misunderstood the format.

"By putting people in tribes, they clearly have to get rid of people of their own ethnicity," he said. "So it's not racial at all."

CBS said it would stick with the format despite the criticism.

Twenty contestants will compete for the $1m (530,000) prize while stranded on the Cook Islands in the South Pacific.

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