AOL Outraged By CBS

Gretchen Gallen
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Only three days into the media hailstorm surrounding the Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake onstage fiasco at the Super Bowl, American Online (AOL), a division of Time Warner, is demanding compensation for a foiled $10 million advertising campaign that aired during the halftime show.

AOL's sponsorship of the halftime show was for its TopSpeed service, a web browser accelerator. But AOL is reportedly hopping mad at CBS over the embarrassing antics of Jackson and Timberlake during which Jackson's right breast was either accidentally or intentionally bared in front of the Super Bowl's estimated 130 million viewers.

According to the Washington Post, advertising during the Super Bowl halftime show is a highly coveted and highly priced promotional spot. The advertising purchase was made through Initiative Media, AOL's media buying unit.

Representatives for AOL reportedly had no clue that there would be partial nudity during the halftime show, especially in such a way that managed to shock the entire nation.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) indecency regulations prohibit the broadcast of indecent material when children are watching. This year the Super Bowl began its broadcast at 4pm.

AOL has also canceled its plans to stream coverage of the halftime show to its subscribers through AOL.com. AOL was anticipating a huge amount of traffic to its site for the two-week period it planned to air a replay of the show.

AOL was not available for comment at the time of this printing.

The Super Bowl halftime show is also being investigated by the FCC, which has been on the hunt lately for profanity and indecency violations by media companies.

The FCC is reportedly investigating not just Jackson's bared breast incident, but also other sections of her routine in which the sexual connotations were considered too flagrant for family viewing.

According to the Washington Post, both CBS and MTV apologized for the nudity mishaps and claimed it was unintentional and "inconsistent with assurances we had about the content of the performance."

Viacom, the parent company of CBS and MTV, is the most likely candidate for an immediate FCC fine after the FCC fined its Infinity Broadcasting unit $357,500 three months ago for indecency, the Washington Post reports.

If Viacom is found guilty of indecency violations, each of Viacom's 200 affiliate stations could face a penalty of up to $27,500.

The FCC might also make a charge against Jackson and Timberlake, although its action against the two pop stars has not yet been determined.

"I am outraged at what I saw during the halftime show of the Super Bowl," the FCC chairman said in a statement. "Like millions of Americans, my family and I gathered around the television for a celebration. Instead, that celebration was tainted by a classless, crass and deplorable stunt. Our nation's children, parents and citizens deserve better."