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‘Survivor’ says it has a new auto sponsor

Show not revealing yet what company will fill GM’s position
/ Source: The Associated Press

CBS says it has a new sponsor to replace General Motors Corp.’s advertisements on the hit reality show “Survivor.”

The world’s largest automaker confirmed Wednesday that it would no longer advertise on the show, but said the decision had nothing to do with the show’s recent announcement that it was arranging its teams based on contestants’ race and ethnicity.

“The upcoming edition of ‘Survivor’ has a full roster of advertisers across a wide range of categories and GM’s position has been filled,” CBS spokesman Chris Ender said Thursday.

He would not identify the sponsors or say if an automaker had stepped in to take GM’s place.

Spokesmen for Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. said they had no plans to advertise on the show. A spokesman for Honda Motor Co. said it does not comment on advertising decisions. A DaimlerChrysler AG spokeswoman said Dodge had no plans to advertise on the show and she was checking on Chrysler and Mercedes.

GM had been the exclusive automotive sponsor of “Survivor” since the show’s premiere in May of 2000.

The pullout decision was made by GM in the normal course of deciding its media buys months ago, said GM spokeswoman Ryndee S. Carney. The decision was made without knowledge of the show’s new format, she said.

GM also said it is shifting some of its media dollars from prime-time television to more live sports, awards shows and other big events, Carney said. The Detroit-based automaker also decided that its media strategy should feature cars and trucks integrated into shows, which was difficult on “Survivor,” she said. Although one episode did feature a Pontiac Aztek, the opportunities for cars and trucks on the show were few, Carney said.

GM informed CBS of the decision several months ago, Ender said.

A group of New York City officials have criticized the new format of “Survivor,” saying it promotes divisiveness. They have asked CBS to reconsider its plans.

For the first portion of the 13th edition of “Survivor,” which premieres Sept. 14, the contestants competing for the $1 million prize while stranded on the Cook Islands in the South Pacific will be divided into four teams — blacks, Asians, Hispanics and whites.

Show creator Mark Burnett said Tuesday that many of the critics haven’t ever seen the show and don’t understand how it works.

“By putting people in tribes, they clearly have to get rid of people of their own ethnicity,” he told The Associated Press during a conference call. “So it’s not racial at all.”