???The Bachelor??? gets $100,000 proposal from New Mexico

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SANTA FE, N.M. ??? The New Mexico Tourism Department is joining the Santa Fe City Council in the dating pool for the reality TV series, ???The Bachelor.???

???We???re really excited,??? said Rebecca Latham, communications director for the tourism department, who confirmed Monday that the state agency will pay $50,000 to the show???s producers. In return, the producers agreed to tape a two-hour episode of the show seen on ABC-TV at various locations in the state???s capital city this fall.

The Santa Fe City Council originally committed up to $100,000 for the effort, but Randy Randall, director of the city???s Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the Santa Fe New Mexican that the city won???t pay more than $50,000.

All told, $100,000 in public money from New Mexico will be spent.

???A 30-second ad during ???The Bachelor??? would run about $200,000 and we really feel it???s a steal to get it at $50,000 in front of a huge prime-time viewership for two hours,??? Latham told New Mexico Watchdog.

The $50,000 purchase will not include any commercials promoting New Mexico tourism, but Latham said the exposure makes the expenditure of taxpayers dollars a good investment. The $50,000 will come out of the New Mexico Tourism Department???s $7 million annual advertising budget, Latham said.

Debuting in 2002, the show features one bachelor choosing a potential wife from a pool of 25 women, and culminates with a choreographed ceremony with the husband-to-be offering his choice a red rose. ???The Bachelor??? is one of ABC???s highest-rated shows, drawing 14.3 million viewers last season.

But the use of taxpayer money, as well as complaints about the show???s content, has drawn plenty of criticism.

???I know the money in the tourism budget is not necessarily allotted to fixing problems like homelessness,??? said Santa Fe resident Jill Meyer when news broke of the city council???s attempt to lure the show to what locals call The City Different. ???But I don???t think people who watch ???The Bachelor??? will come to Santa Fe ??? It just seems to be a total waste of money.???

???We view this as a traditional ad buy,??? Latham said. ???We???ve got to advertise the state of New Mexico to generate tax income, to get people here to the state. Just like any other advertising is how we view this particular purchase.???