At a pair of hearings, lawmakers excoriated Mel Karmazin, president of Viacom Inc. His company owns CBS, which broadcast the Super Bowl halftime show that included Jackson, and MTV, which produced the show.
Members of the House Commerce subcommittee on telecommunications spent more than two hours grilling Karmazin, who again apologized for the show that ended with singer Justin Timberlake tearing off part of Jackson’s top and exposing her right breast to 90 million viewers.
“You knew what you were doing,” said Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R-N.M.). “You wanted us to be all abuzz. It lines your pockets.”
Karmazin insisted that CBS and MTV did not know about plans to rip off Jackson’s top or the crotch-grabbing dance steps that were also included in the show.
The halftime show drew more than 200,000 complaints to the Federal Communications Commission.
National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, also testifying before the House panel, said he expressed concerns about the halftime show in December and even considered dismissing MTV. But he decided to move forward following a meeting with CBS President Leslie Moonves and because of MTV’s track record in producing the 2001 halftime show.
“We should have recognized it earlier. We gave the keys to the car to someone else to drive without assuring they knew how to drive the car safely, and they crashed,” Tagliabue said.