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Jackson apologises for breast show as Timberlake says he's 'appalled'

Pop star Justin Timberlake said Wednesday he was "shocked," "appalled and "embarrassed" that Janet Jackson's breast was flashed to 100 million US television viewers when he ripped off her bodice on stage.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2004 14:31 IST

Pop star Justin Timberlake said Wednesday he was "shocked," "appalled and "embarrassed" that Janet Jackson's breast was flashed to 100 million US television viewers when he ripped off her bodice on stage.

As Timberlake denied any responsibility for the incident that has sparked outrage across America, Jackson made a contrite public apology for the over-exposure that has also garnered her unprecedented publicity.

And, as the "Nipplegate" scandal shook the country amid a federal indecency investigation, the ABC television network said it would delay the live broadcast of this year's Oscars ceremony to avoid similar antics.

The 23-year-old singer Timberlake broke his public silence on the incident, which took place during a half-time performance at Sunday's football Super Bowl, saying that if it was stunt, he had nothing to do with it.

"When what happened, happened, I was completely shocked and appalled," he told Los Angeles' CBS 2 News.

The all-American singer said that, according to a plan devised by Jackson and her choreographer earlier Sunday, he was to pull on the bustier and expose her red lace bra, not her naked breast, covered only by an ornate nipple-cap.

"It was, 'Oh my God, oh my God'. I was completely embarrassed. I don't feel like I need publicity like that and I wouldn't want to be involved in a stunt, especially not a stunt of this magnitude," he said.

Jackson took the blame for the incident, which has led to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) investigation into whether indecency regulations had been breached.

The younger sister of troubled pop superstar Michael Jackson released a video-taped statement in which she declared: "I am really sorry if I offended anyone. That was truly not my intention."

Her previous statements of regret came through a spokesman and followed expressions of outrage from the National Football League, broadcaster CBS and the half-time show's producer MTV.

"My decision to change the Super Bowl performance was actually made after the final rehearsal.

"MTV, CBS, the NFL had no knowledge of this whatsoever, and unfortunately, the whole thing went wrong in the end," Jackson said.

The display of flesh after singer Justin Timberlake ripped off Jackson's bodice during the Super Bowl show last Sunday has generated more Internet traffic than even the September 11, 2001 attacks, according to a survey released Wednesday.

There has been much speculation about how far the pair had rehearsed. MTV has a tape of the rehearsal but has no plans to show it, network spokeswoman Marnie Black said. "The tape won't be released," she insisted.

On top of the outrage of FCC chairman Michael Powell, Jackson's display has provoked huge public interest with television channels showing hundreds of re-runs with her nipple blurred out.

The FCC said it had received thousands of telephone calls and e-mails of complaint. Powell called the display a "classless, crass and deplorable stunt".

But the Terra Lycos portal said: "Janet Jackson exposing her breast during the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday night has proved to be the most-searched event in the history of the Internet."

Lycos survey chief Aaron Schatz said that prior to this week, the most-searched event in the history of "The Lycos 50" survey over a one-day period was the September 11 attacks two years ago.

Pornography has become a major Internet seller but Lycos said the Jackson show on Monday "received 60 times as many searches as the Paris Hilton sex tape and 80 times as many searches as Britney Spears."

"Over the course of one day, it received three times as many searches as the 2000 election.

"It also received four times as many searches as the Iraq War on the day that Al-Jazeera broadcast video of American prisoners of war, and received five times as many searches as the day the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded," said Schatz.

Digital video recording pioneer TiVo said the bodice rip had already become the most watched clip in its history.

Jackson and Timberlake are expected be reunited at the music industry Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday. Jackson will present a prize and Timberlake is to sing.

CBS, which was forced to apologise for the two-second glimpse of the Jackson breast, is to add an extra time delay to its telecast of the show to avoid a repeat.

And Oscars broadcaster ABC said Wednesday it was slapping a five-second audio and video delay on cinema's top awards show on February 29 for the first time in its history.

"We think it's smart, we think it's responsible," ABC's Sue Binford said.

If the FCC decides indecency regulations were breached it could fine CBS 27,500 dollars for each of its local stations which aired the show. The network could end up paying 550,000 dollars.

First Published: Feb 09, 2004 14:26 IST