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Chairman instructs Commission to examine Jackson Super Bowl exposure

Reacting to the exposure of entertainer Janet Jackson’s breast during halftime festivities at the Super Bowl Feb. 1, FCC Chairman Michael Powell called for an immediate investigation into the matter.

Monday, Powell issued a statement deploring the incident. “I am outraged at what I saw during the halftime show of the Super Bowl,” Powell said in a statement posted on the Commission’s Web site.

“Like millions of Americans, my family and I gathered around the television for a celebration. Instead, that celebration was tainted by a classless, crass and deplorable stunt. Our nation’s children, parents and citizens deserve better,” he said in the statement.

CBS aired the Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers from Reliant Stadium in Houston. During the halftime show singer Justin Timberlake ripped off part of the top Jackson was wearing, exposing her right breast. The incident was broadcast live.

“I have instructed the Commission to open an immediate investigation into last night’s broadcast,” Powell said in his statement. “Our investigation will be thorough and swift.”

Late Monday afternoon, Powell’s colleagues on the Commission responded to the incident with separate statements on the FCC's Web site.

“Americans should not have to tolerate such a gratuitous display of nudity,” Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy said in her statement. “Broadcasters should have more respect for their viewers and exercise a greater degree of social responsibility than what was shown last night.”

Commissioner Michael Copps’ statement said that “nothing this Commission has done so far has accomplished anything to slow down Big Media’s race to the bottom.”

“Congress prohibited the broadcast of obscene, indecent and profane material, and it charged the FCC with implementing this ban,” Commissioner Kevin Martin said in his statement. “We need to enforce our rules more stringently.”

For his part, Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein applauded the Chairman’s plan to investigate. “The Super Bowl should be a time families can spend together in their homes without the intrusion of tasteless and inappropriate behavior,” his statement said.

A finding by the Commission that the performance violated the FCC prohibition on indecency broadcast between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. could result in CBS-parent Viacom’s O&Os and affiliate stations that aired the incident being fined up to $27,500 apiece. Other penalties may be levied against the network and the performers.

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