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Apologetic Jackson says 'costume reveal' went awry

FCC to investigate incident at end of halftime show

The halftime performance by Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake has led to an FCC investigation.
The halftime performance by Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake has led to an FCC investigation.

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Singer Justin Timberlake tore off part of Janet Jackson's top, exposing her breast, at the close of the Super Bowl halftime show (February 2)
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The FCC is investigating and could impose heavy fines.
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Janet Jackson
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(CNN) -- Singer Janet Jackson apologized Monday to anyone who was offended when her right breast was exposed during the halftime show Sunday at the Super Bowl.

"The decision to have a costume reveal at the end of my halftime show performance was made after final rehearsals," Jackson said in a statement.

"MTV was completely unaware of it. It was not my intention that it go as far as it did. I apologize to anyone offended -- including the audience, MTV, CBS and the NFL."

MTV produced the halftime show, which was broadcast by CBS. Both had issued their own apologies.

On Monday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell ordered an investigation of the incident.

An estimated 140 million people were watching the show when at the end, pop star Justin Timberlake popped off part of Jackson's corset, exposing her breast.

Powell told CNN he was not convinced the incident was an accident.

"Clearly somebody had knowledge of it. Clearly it was something that was planned by someone," he said. "She probably got what she was looking for."

Jackson spokesman Stephen Huvane said the incident "was a malfunction of the wardrobe; it was not intentional. ... He was supposed to pull away the bustier and leave the red-lace bra."

Huvane said an unauthorized copy of Jackson's single "Just a Little While" has appeared on the Internet, so Virgin Records decided to release it Monday. The song is from the album "Damita Jo," set to be released March 30.

MTV posted this tease on its Web site last week: "Janet Jackson's Super Bowl show promises shocking moments."

Powell said he was watching the game Sunday evening with his two children and found the incident "outrageous."

"I knew immediately it would cause great outrage among the American people, which it did," he said, citing "thousands" of complaints received by Monday morning. "We have a very angry public on our hands."

Powell said MTV and the CBS network's more than 200 affiliates and company-owned stations could be fined $27,500 apiece.

"I think it's all of their problem," he said. "The law allows you to reach many of the different parties." He said he would like to see the enforcement penalties strengthened to 10 times their current amount.

"We all as a society have a responsibility as to what the images and messages our children hear when they're likely to be watching television," he said.

"I don't think that's being moralistic, and I don't think that's government trying to tell people how to run their businesses. I don't think you need to be a lawyer to understand the basic concepts of common decency here."

Powell said he "expressed my great displeasure" over the incident in a telephone call Monday with CBS President and CEO Mel Karmazin, who "promised to cooperate" with the investigation.

Although Karmazin expressed "a great deal of regret," Powell said those sentiments would not deter the investigation.

The stock price of Viacom, the parent of CBS, rose more than 1 percent Monday.

"CBS deeply regrets the incident that occurred during the Super Bowl halftime show," the network said in a statement. "We attended all rehearsals throughout the week, and there was no indication that any such thing would happen.

"The moment did not conform to CBS broadcast standards, and we would like to apologize to anyone who was offended."

A statement from MTV said the tearing of Jackson's costume "was unrehearsed, unplanned, completely unintentional and was inconsistent with assurances we had about the content of the performance.

"MTV regrets this incident occurred, and we apologize to anyone who was offended by it."

Despite its apology, MTV did not hesitate to promote the incident after the fact. A Web page headline said: "Janet Jackson Got Nasty at the MTV-Produced Super Bowl Halftime Show."

Continuing, the Web page said, "Jaws across the country hit the carpet at exactly the same time. You know what we're talking about ... Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake and a kinky finale that rocked the Super Bowl to its core."

Not everyone was buying the apologies.

"They can apologize all they want, but this was wrong, and heads are going to fall," said New York-based media strategist Robbie Vorhaus, who once worked for CBS.

Performing together in a routine that had included a number of bump-and-grind moves, Timberlake reached across Jackson, flicking off the molded right cup of the bustier, leaving her breast bare except for a starburst-shaped decoration held in place by a nipple piercing.

Timberlake issued his own apology. "I am sorry if anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime performance at the Super Bowl," he said. "It was not intentional and is regrettable."

The White House also weighed in on the issue. "Our view is that it's important for families to be able to expect a high standard when it comes to programming," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue joined the chorus. "The show was offensive, inappropriate and embarrassing to us and our fans. We will change our policy, our people and our processes for managing the halftime entertainment in the future in order to deal far more effectively with the quality of this aspect of the Super Bowl."

AOL, owned by CNN parent company Time Warner, attempted to distance itself from the dispute.

"While AOL was the sponsor of the Super Bowl Halftime Show, we did not produce it. In deference to our membership and the fans, AOL and will not be presenting the halftime show online as originally planned."

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