Cingular Wireless Pulls Ringtone From Its Web Site the Company Calls 'Blatantly Offensive'
The Associated Press
BROWNSVILLE, Texas - Cingular Wireless LLC pulled a ringtone from its Web site Tuesday after learning that it carried a message the company called "blatantly offensive."
The cell phone company became aware of the ringtone, which uses mixed English and Spanish and threatens deportation, after an inquiry from a reporter for The Brownsville Herald.
The newspaper reported in its online edition Tuesday that the ringtone started with a siren, followed by a male voice saying in a Southern drawl, "This is la Migra," a slang term for the Border Patrol.
"Por favor, put the oranges down and step away from the cell phone. I repeat-o, put the oranges down and step away from the telephone-o. I'm deporting you back home-o," the voice continued.
Hispanic activists called the product racist.
"It's horribly offensive and a disgusting thing," Brent Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, told the newspaper.
Cingular removed the $2.49 ringtone, among thousands available for downloading from its Web site, Tuesday afternoon, said company spokesman Mark Siegel.
"Needless to say, we deeply regret and apologize for it ever being there in the first place. The ringtone is blatantly offensive," he said.
The ringtone became available between late February or early March and was downloaded eight times, Siegel said. It was developed by Barrio Mobile, Siegel said. Barrio Mobile is a brand owned by Lagardere Active North American, the U.S. division of a French media company.
Cingular officials were reviewing the process used to screen ringtones, which are developed by several other companies, he said.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.
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