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Sunday, February 01, 2004

CBS Apologizes for Halftime Show Ending: CBS has apologized for the unexpected ending of its halftime show, where Justin Timberlake pulled off part of Janet Jackson's top, revealing her right breast. What is unclear is whether the network could be fined for the incident, even though CBS changed cameras very quickly and did not mention the incident for the remainder of the broadcast. The FCC recently proposed a record fine of over $750,000 against four Clear Channel radio stations in Florida which aired 26 episodes of the sexually-explicit "Bubba the Love Sponge." It is part of the FCC's mission to more strictly enforce the indecency codes against broadcast stations.

CBS is clearly pleading ignorance and the incident was so brief most viewers may have missed it. However, the FCC received a great deal of criticism last year when it failed to fine NBC after Bono used the F-word during the Golden Globes and the network censors failed to bleep it out. Thus, it is possible the agency may fine CBS to prove that networks must take greater responsibility for what they show.

But should the networks be the ones that are fined? If this incident was, as it appears, planned by Timberlake and Jackson and unknown to CBS, why should the artists not be fined? If the gauntlet falls on the networks, they will become overcautious in what they show and do not show, possibly leading to the cutting of potentially scandalous acts. Since it will be at the purview of the government, such action would be dangerously close to censorship. If, however, the artists were held responsible for crossing the line, the networks could air performances and the artists could perform within the very reasonable limits imposed by the FCC. Under this system, networks could air performances without fear of retribution, allowing for greater potential artistic expression.

And, for those of you that missed it, the Patriots beat the Panthers 32-29 on a last second field goal. For a boy who went to Duke in North Carolina, this was most disappointing. I also found the commercials to be a letdown.


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