NEW YORK – It's Janet's fault. That's what the chairman and CEO of MTV Networks, Tom Freston, said Tuesday about the Super Bowl halftime debacle in which Janet Jackson's breast was exposed.
"We were really ripped off. We were punk'd by Janet Jackson," Freston said, referring to MTV's Ashton Kutcher reality show that makes celebrities the butt of practical jokes.
"There's now going to be an FCC investigation into the nipple," Freston told reporters at a news conference.
The music network, which produced the halftime show, and CBS landed in a world of trouble with outraged viewers and federal regulators looking into exactly who knew about Jackson's plans to have Justin Timberlake yank off part of her costume during the show.
Speaking at a panel discussion with other entertainment executives, Freston noted that Jackson herself said the decision to do the stunt was made without MTV's knowledge.
In a statement released Monday night, Jackson said the stunt that revealed a breast clad only in a sun-shaped "nipple shield" in front of some 89 million viewers went awry after being planned at the last minute.
"The decision to have a costume reveal at the end of my halftime show performance was made after final rehearsals. MTV (search) was completely unaware of it," she said. "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."
But the display still raised questions such as: If it was an accident, why did a choreographer promise "shocking moments" in an interview with the Web site MTV.com prior to the show?
And how could it have been a coincidence when it was timed to the words of Timberlake's song "Rock Your Body" — "I'm gonna have you naked by the end of this song"?
MTV Networks Group President Judy McGrath said the shocker was supposed to be Timberlake's appearance — and not what he did afterward. McGrath was sitting in the audience and didn't see the flash, but said the pair "looked upset" afterward.
While she praised Jackson and Timberlake as artists, she said: "I don't appreciate someone who doesn't communicate what their plans are. I think it was a misguided move on their parts."
Although Timberlake issued a statement shortly after the show apologizing and blaming the incident on a "wardrobe malfunction," he didn't seem very sorry in comments to the syndicated show "Access Hollywood."
"Hey man, we love giving you all something to talk about," he said, laughing.
Federal Communications Commission chief Michael Powell (search) on Monday promised an investigation into whether CBS violated decency laws, with potential fines of up to $27,500. If applied to each CBS station, the fine could reach into the millions.
"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," Powell said in a statement.
"This was done completely without our knowledge," said Chris Ender, entertainment spokesman for CBS, which was deluged with angry calls. "It wasn't rehearsed. It wasn't discussed. It wasn't even hinted at. ... This is something we would have never approved. We are angry and embarrassed."
The NFL said it was "extremely disappointed." Several members of Congress, the Parents Television Council and the Traditional Values Coalition expressed outrage.
Even halftime producer and CBS corporate Viacom cousin MTV — the network that broadcast Madonna kissing Britney Spears at last August's MTV Awards — was contrite.
"Unrehearsed, unplanned, completely unintentional," said MTV.
According to the FCC, non-cable TV channels cannot air "obscene" material at any time and cannot air "indecent" material between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
The FCC defines obscene as describing sexual conduct "in a patently offensive way" and lacking "serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value." Indecent material is not as offensive but still contains references to sex or excretions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.