Blame game: Networks point fingers over who is at fault for MIA gesture

Taylor Bigler | Entertainment Editor

If you blinked, you probably missed it. But during the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday, rapper M.I.A. gave viewers a less-than-friendly gesture when she flashed the middle finger during Madonna’s performance of “Give Me All Your Luvin.'”

NBC’s five-second delay didn’t catch the gesture in time, but NBC is shifting the blame onto the NFL for hiring the brash, foul-mouthed singer for the halftime performance.

“The NFL hired the talent and produced the halftime show,” NBC wrote in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “Our system was late to obscure the inappropriate gesture and we apologize to our viewers.”

Meanwhile, the NFL is laying the blame on the major network, saying the flaw was in their delay system: “There was a failure in NBC’s delay system. The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing, and we apologize to our fans.”

It is highly unlikely that M.I.A. will issue an apology to viewers, however, as she mouthed “I don’t give a shit,” while flipping the bird.

This year’s game was expected to be the most watched television event in U.S. history.

Although the incident is far milder than the so-called Nipplegate involving Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson’s breast during the 2004 halftime show, the Federal Communications Commission will likely have a field day over the obscene gesture.

During the 2004 incident, Timberlake ripped off Jackson’s bustier, exposing her breast for nine-sixteenths of a second — a move that cost CBS $550,000. The network challenged the fine last fall and a federal appeals court ruled against the FCC.

The suit prompted a federal review of three decades worth of FCC rulings, and a three-judge panel came to the conclusion that the agency would have to change its policy regarding network policing.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report

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