A new clarion call is echoing through TV stations across the United States: No sex please… we’re American. Fury over sexy TV and videos has sparked a clean-up by networks who fear legal clampdowns and stiff fines.

The furore over singer Janet Jackson baring a breast during the Super Bowl half-time show has wiped a slew of sex scenes and raunchy videos from America’s TV screens.

Prudishness is sweeping across the mainstream TV networks which were stung by the outpouring of criticism over Jackson’s ‘Nipplegate’. Last week music channel MTV withdrew six of its racier videos from its daily schedules, switching them to slots after 10pm.

The videos included Britney Spears’s latest single ‘Toxic’ in which the catsuit-clad singer simulates sex in an airliner lavatory. Other bands whose videos were dumped from the daytime include rockers Blink 182 and Incubus.

MTV admitted its move was a reaction to public pressure. ‘Given the particular sensitivity in the culture right now, we’re erring on the side of caution for the immediate future,’ a spokeswoman said.

Mainstream shows have not escaped either. ABC has become the first major network to consider broadcasting a ‘desexed’ version of an episode of its hit police series NYPD Blue to parts of the country where time differences mean it goes out before 10pm. The series’ producer, Steven Bochco, is so angry that he has refused to make the edits himself.

Other major networks have already made similar programme changes. CBS has removed a shot of a naked man from its crime series, Without A Trace, while NBC deleted a two-second shot of an elderly woman’s breast from ER .

Jackson’s performance during the Super Bowl, where singer Justin Timberlake ripped off part of her bodice at the climax of their duet, unleashed a wave of criticism that has stunned TV executives. Thousands of viewers rang to complain. One woman, Tennessee banker Terri Carlin, even filed a class action lawsuit claiming millions of dollars in compensation.

America’s powerful conservative and religious lobbies have joined the outcry. ‘The last thing a parent expects to see when they sit down with their family to watch the Super Bowl is Janet Jackson’s breast … to feature a show that requires parents to send their kids out of the room is unconscionable,’ said Rick Schatz, president of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families.

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