The Food Network said is dropping celebrity chef Paula Deen after the Southern food doyenne was sued for racial discrimination and admitted in a legal deposition to using a racial slur in the past.
The impending loss of Deen's broadcast deal represents a potentially huge setback for a television personality who has built an empire on high-calorie food, with cookbooks and restaurants in her native Georgia and other states.
The Food Network said it "will not renew Paula Deen's contract when it expires at the end of this month".
The network said it "does not tolerate any form of discrimination and is a strong proponent of diversity and inclusion".
The network's decision to drop Deen was announced hours after she failed to make a scheduled appearance on the NBC television morning show Today to discuss the controversy. She later apologised on video that was posted online.
"I want to apologise to everybody for the wrong that I've done. I want to learn and grow from this," Deen said in one video posted on YouTube and other websites.
The controversy surrounding Deen erupted earlier in the week when a deposition was released in transcript form in which Deen, who is white, was asked if she had used the "N-word", and responded, "Yes, of course".
Asked about the epithet in the deposition, Deen said she had used the slur when describing, probably to her husband, how a black man robbed a bank where she was working in the 1980s. She said she had used the word since, "but it's been a very long time".
A former employee of Paula Deen Enterprises, Lisa Jackson, is suing Deen and her brother, Earl "Bubba" Hiers, in federal court alleging racial and sexual discrimination in the workplace. The deposition was related to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that, while discussing with Jackson plans for Hiers' 2007 wedding, Deen said she wanted a "true southern plantation-style wedding".
"Well, what I would really like is a bunch of little niggers to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around," Deen said, according to the lawsuit.