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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 February, 2004, 09:19 GMT
Politicians' fury at Janet flash
Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake
Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake have both apologised
Politicians and TV regulators expressed outrage at singer Janet Jackson's Super Bowl breast flash at two hearings in Washington DC on Wednesday.

The heads of broadcaster Viacom and the National Football League were grilled by Senate and Congress committees.

Congresswoman Heather Wilson accused Viacom - which owns network CBS, which aired the Super Bowl - of planning the incident to "line your pockets".

Jackson was exposed during a half-time routine watched by 90 million people.

The Congress House Telecommunications Committee spent two hours questioning Viacom president Mel Karmazin.

Ms Jackson's unrehearsed and unapproved display went far beyond what are acceptable standards
Mel Karmazin
Viacom president
"You knew what you were doing," Ms Wilson said. "You wanted us to be all abuzz. It lines your pockets."

But Mr Karmazin denied CBS or MTV - which produced the half-time show and is also owned by Viacom - knew what would happen.

"Everyone at Viacom and everyone at CBS and everyone at MTV was shocked and appalled and embarrassed at what had happened," he said.

"Ms Jackson's unrehearsed and unapproved display went far beyond what are acceptable standards for our broadcast network."

Future live programmes would be shown with a five-minute delay to avoid a repeat, he said.

National Football League commissioner Paul Tagliabue also testified, saying he felt like he was "kicked in the stomach" when he watched the half-time performance.

"We certainly did not, in the end, retain or assert sufficient control over the final character, content, lyrics, choreography and other critical elements of the show - and for that we take responsibility," he said.

It is just the latest example of what we've noted is a growing list of deplorable incidents on the nation's airwaves
Michael Powell
Federal Communications Commission chairman
"Reflecting on it, I feel like we gave the keys to the car to someone else for them to drive without assuring ourselves that they knew how to drive safely and the car crashed."

The league would "make the necessary changes" to ensure nothing similar happened again, he promised.

In a Senate hearing, Michael Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) media regulator described the incident as "a new low for prime time television".

"Not only was it outrageous and offending to children, I think it's important to note it was enormously degrading to women to suggest that was proper behaviour," he said.

"But it is just the latest example of what we've noted is a growing list of deplorable incidents on the nation's airwaves and the increasing concern about coarseness has resulted in a dramatic rise in public concern."

The FCC has received 200,000 complaints and proposed laws could increase possible fines for indecency from $27,500 (14,500) to $275,000.

'Really sorry'

Janet Jackson has apologised, saying the decision to change her performance was made after the final rehearsal.

"Unfortunately the whole thing went wrong in the end. I am really sorry if I offended anyone," she said.

And Justin Timberlake, who ripped at her top to expose the breast during the performance, said sorry at Sunday's Grammy Awards.

"What occurred was unintentional, completely regrettable," he said.


SEE ALSO:
Oscar head angry at TV show delay
11 Feb 04  |  Entertainment
Janet upset sees MTV move Britney
10 Feb 04  |  Entertainment
US apoplexy over Jackson flash
04 Feb 04  |  Entertainment
Janet's breast makes net history
05 Feb 04  |  Technology
Inquiry into Janet Jackson flash
03 Feb 04  |  Entertainment


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