FCC will probe Janet's Super Bowl flash. Despite (or because of) the halftime spectacle, the game is the most-watched Super Bowl in six years

January 31, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

Everyone from Justin Timberlake to CBS and MTV is apologizing for what they say was the inadvertent exposure of Janet Jackson’s right breast — nipple ring and all — during the halftime show at Sunday’s Super Bowl, but those apologies seem to be falling on deaf ears. Not only did the NFL issue a statement saying it was ”extremely disappointed” with the stunt and that it was ”unlikely” that MTV would be invited to produce the halftime show ever again, but now the Federal Communications Commission is getting involved, with FCC chairman Michael Powell vowing to probe the incident.

Timberlake, who ripped away Jackson’s snap-on bodice as he sang the words ”Bet I’ll have you naked by the end of this song,” blamed a ”wardrobe malfunction” for his boob-boo. MTV said the exposure was unplanned, as did sibling network CBS, which apologized after fielding ”several” irate calls from viewers.

One irate viewer was Powell. ”Like millions of Americans, my family and I gathered around the television for a celebration,” he said in a statement. “Instead, that celebration was tainted by a classless, crass and deplorable stunt. Our nation’s children, parents and citizens deserve better.” No word if Powell’s family was similarly mortified by the numerous ads for erectile dysfunction medicines, or the Budweiser commercial in which a talking chimp who hits on a young woman. Concluded Powell: ”I have instructed the commission to open an immediate investigation into last night’s broadcast. Our investigation will be thorough and swift.” The potential FCC fine for such a violation is $27,500, but could add up to millions of dollars if the commission chose to apply the penalty to every CBS affiliate station.

At least CBS managed to keep off the air a male streaker who rushed the field before the third-quarter kickoff. Clad only in a G-string and bearing the name of a gambling website scrawled on his chest, the man was tackled by New England Patriots linebacker Matt Chatham, then hogtied and arrested by Houston police, who charged the 39-year-old man with criminal trespass and public intoxication, the Associated Press reports.

Still, whether it was the halftime spectacle, ads like the one with the randy chimp, or the exciting play of two evenly matched teams (the game was decided by a field goal in the final seconds, with the Patriots beating the Carolina Panthers 32-29), the game was the highest-rated Super Bowl in six years, according to early Nielsen estimates. The contest averaged about 89 million viewers, up slightly from last year’s 88.6 million and comparable to the 90 million who watched the Denver-Green Bay Super Bowl in 1998. At least 140 million people watched some part of the game, up from 138.9 million last year. CBS also said that it expected the post-game premiere of ”Survivor: All-Stars” to be the top-rated post-Super Bowl program since CBS premiered ”Survivor: The Outback” after the 2001 game.

You May Like