WASHINGTON -- The nation's chief media regulator expressed disappointment Wednesday over the steamy locker room opening to ABC's Monday Night Football broadcast.
"I wonder if Walt Disney would be proud," said Michael Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co.
The opening, which has generated complaints to ABC and the FCC, featured actress Nicollette Sheridan of the hit show "Desperate Housewives" in the locker room, wearing only a towel and provocatively asking Philadelphia Eagles star Terrell Owens to skip the game for her. She drops the towel and jumps into Owens' arms. Sheridan was shown only from behind and above the waist after dropping the towel.
Powell questioned the judgment of those who decided to air the scene.
"It would seem to me that while we get a lot of broadcasting companies complaining about indecency enforcement, they seem to be continuing to be willing to keep the issue at the forefront, keep it hot and steamy in order to get financial gains and the free advertising it provides," Powell said during an interview on CNBC.
An FCC spokeswoman said the agency has received a number of complaints about the broadcast, though she declined to say how many.
The complaints will be reviewed, and the commission will decide whether or not to open an investigation that could result in a fine against the network. The maximum indecency fine is $32,500 per incident.
ABC quickly apologized for the locker room intro. And the NFL called it "inappropriate and unsuitable for our Monday Night Football audience."
ABC has broadcast Monday Night Football with a 5-second delay this season, a precaution after singer Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" at February's Super Bowl halftime show -- when singer Justin Timberlake ripped off part of Jackson's outfit, exposing her right breast to a TV audience of some 90 million people.
CBS is protesting a proposed FCC fine of $550,000 for the halftime show.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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