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Despite all this remorse, the outrage only grew larger and louder. Of the two
performers, criticism seemed especially intense towards Jackson, with many dis-
tracters choosing to believe that she had intentionally exposed herself to generate
publicity for her upcoming album. The Grammy Awards had previously invited
both Timberlake and Jackson to be presenters, but threatened to revoke both invi-
tations unless the two apologized again during the telecast. Timberlake conceded,
quietly offering an apology to anyone who was offended by the unintentional
display. Jackson, who was scheduled to participate in a tribute to Luther Vandross,
would not agree to apologize again and was dropped from the show's line-up.
Further, ABC television loudly announced that it had decided to drop Jackson
from the lead role in its upcoming Lena Horne biopic. According to sources, ABC
had approached Jackson about opting out of the role, but Jackson only stopped
her resistance once Horne and her family contacted Jackson, asking her to leave
the project.
After the initial uproar, most of the blame fixated on CBS , who ran the event
live without any sort of delay. Only a few weeks before the Super Bowl incident,
the Federal Communications Commission (known as the FCC, they are the federal
agency that regulates broadcasting and broadcast content) had issued a contested
ruling that U2 singer Bono had not violated profanity regulations almost a year
earlier at the Golden Globe Awards . When U2's song "The Hands That Built
America," from the film The Gangs Of New York, won an award, Bono started his
acceptance speech by saying it was "really, really fucking brilliant." The FCC had
explained its decision not to fine NBC (the awards show broadcaster) because
Bono's use of the word "fucking" was an adjective. Therefore, it did not fall under
the current definition of indecent program content . While many were shocked by
the decision, according to the United States' often quirky systems for regulating
speech on radio and television, the decision was legally correct.
Broadcasting in the United States has always had its own unique set of free
speech and indecency provisions, based on the idea that broadcasting is inher-
ently invasive: it comes into a person's house without the recipient's discretion.
Therefore, it is subject to much tighter restriction than other forms of speech.
The FCC's indecency provisions were given birth in the groundbreaking Radio
Act of 1927 , which states "No person within the jurisdiction of the United States
shall utter any obscene, indecent , or profane language by means of radio com-
munications." This regulation was later reiterated in the Communications Act of
1934 and was added to the U.S. Federal Criminal Code in 1948. Despite this early
start, the FCC never applied those provisions until 1970, when it fined a