NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
FCC Chairman Michael Powell ordered an investigation Monday into the Super Bowl halftime show, during which singer Janet Jackson's breast was exposed by Justin Timberlake.
The head of the Federal Communications Commission said the incident was a ''classless, crass and deplorable stunt.'' Powell said in a statement that he was ''outraged," and that he told the five-member commission to launch an investigation.
|Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake performing during the halftime show at the Super Bowl.
Singer Timberlake, who was performing with Jackson and who ripped away part of her costume, apologized and called it a ''wardrobe malfunction.''
In a statement, CBS, which produced the show along with MTV, said it regretted the incident.
"The moment did not conform to CBS broadcast standards and we would like to apologize to anyone who was offended," the statement said.
MTV, which produced the halftime show, issued its own statement.
'The tearing of Janet Jackson's costume was unrehearsed, unplanned, completely unintentional and was inconsistent with assurances we had about the content of the performance," the statement said. "MTV regrets this incident occurred and we apologize to anyone who was offended by it."
But ahead of the game, the MTV Web site promised "shocking moments."
And despite its official apology, MTV did not hesitate to promote the "unrehearsed" incident after the fact. A Web page headline trumpeted: "Janet Jackson Got Nasty at the MTV-Produced Super Bowl Halftime Show."
Powell promised a "thorough and swift" investigation by the agency's enforcement division. Scores of complaints were coming in to the FCC about Jackson and other portions of the entertainment segment of the game, Reuters reported.
When the FCC was bombarded with complaints about the fashion show by lingerie retailer Victoria's Secret that aired on Walt Disney Co.'s ABC broadcast network in 2001, the agency declined to take action because the material was not "so graphic or explicit as to be patently offensive."
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CBS picked up the lingerie show after ABC reportedly declined to air the fashion show the following year.
As part of a tougher stance against indecency at times when children are likely to be watching, the FCC is considering action against General Electric Co.'s NBC television network for an incident in which U2 rocker Bono said an expletive when accepting an award on a live broadcast.
Federal indecency rules bar the broadcast of obscene material and limit the airing of indecent material that contains sexual or excretory references in a patently offensive manner to late night hours when children are less likely to be watching.
Congress and the FCC are weighing tougher sanctions for broadcasters who are judged to violate obscenity standards.
-- from staff and wire reports