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Cingular yanks ringtone considered racist, offensive
BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Cingular Wireless pulled a ringtone from its Web site Tuesday after learning that it carried a message that the company called "blatantly offensive."
The cellphone 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 cellphone. 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 on Tuesday removed the $2.49 ringtone, among thousands available for download from its Web site, company spokesman Mark Siegel said.
"Needless to say, we deeply regret and apologize for it ever being there in the first place," he said. "The ringtone is blatantly offensive."
The ringtone, available since late February or early March, 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 other companies, he said.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company