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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Half-time exposure isn't network's fault

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Far be it from me to defend CBS network, but the television honchos are right in appealing a $550,000 fine from the FCC over the now-famous Janet Jackson breast episode during Super Bowl halftime.

In appealing the fine, CBS argues that no one at the network knew about the "costume reveal" ahead of time and, as a result, should not be held responsible. The FCC is considering the appeal.

I can't imagine that someone (even at CBS) could be stupid enough to approve of Ms. Jackson's brief nudity. Surely those fine folks at the network would not risk the brouhaha that followed. My reasoning is simple. CBS had nothing to gain from the bare breast episode. In fact, they had much to lose.

Janet Jackson and her entourage of handlers are to blame. I'm not sure if you can fine a performer for her "artistic license" but in an earlier era, entertainers were pulled from the stage and jailed in some instances for material that was more tame than the Jackson incident.

One political pundit said that the Jackson breast was the reason George Bush was re-elected last week. The pundit said that the episode prodded the nation to discuss the issue of moral values like none other in recent memory and that the moral value question was primary in the presidential election. I'm not sure if her breast was that powerful, but it certainly did prompt some discussion.

Another reason I think the fine against CBS is silly is because to be real honest, $550,000 is pocket change to a television network. If you want to get their attention, make the fine equal to the revenue they reaped from the Super Bowl. Believe me, that would change behavior!

Here's the irony to me. Janet Jackson, I believe, actually gained positive notoriety from the exposure (pardon the pun). Her career is built on her sexy music and dance. She didn't suffer one step in her career as a result. So allowing her to skate free when she was the one responsible seems wrong.

The FCC should rule against the CBS fine and impose policies to address any future similar episode. And this time the punishment should be extreme enough to send the right message to the mass media. That message is "We have standards established and you will abide by those standards or you will pay a price far beyond your imagination."

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