In the aftermath of Janet Jackson’s controversial Super Bowl breast exposure, MTV has decided that pop tart Britney Spears may be a bit too “Toxic” for daytime tastes.
The music channel, which produced Jackson’s notorious halftime duet with Justin Timberlake, said Monday it has moved six of its racier videos, including Spears’ video for her new single, “Toxic,” from daytime to late-night rotation.
Record labels for Spears and other artists whose videos were consigned to overnight programming — from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. — were informed of the move last week, a spokeswoman for the network said.
She denied that MTV was engaging in self-censorship or responding to pressure from its corporate parent, Viacom Inc.
“We always take into account what the cultural environment is on an ongoing basis,” the spokeswoman said. “Given the particular sensitivity in the culture right now, we’re erring on the side of caution for the immediate future.”
A Viacom spokesman likewise insisted the decision to remove some particularly edgy videos from daytime rotation, as first reported in the Los Angeles Times, originated from within MTV.
“All play lists are decided by the individual channels and we have nothing whatsoever to do with it,” Viacom spokesman Carl Folta said.
MTV’s decision also applies to offerings from alternative rock bands Blink 182 and Maroon 5 and the rap-rock outfit Incubus, whose video for the song “Megalomaniac” depicts an Adolf Hitler character with angel’s wings flying over a crowd.
MTV move mocked
In a statement issued by the band’s publicist, Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger mocked MTV’s play-list alteration, saying, “It’s ironic that this MTV scrutiny comes from an incident where someone bared their chest in public, while for the first time, our singer has his shirt on for an entire video.”
Publicists for Spears’ label, Jive Records, could not immediately be reached for comment.
It was not the first time MTV has altered its play lists in the face of controversy. The network previously declined to premiere an R. Kelly video on its popular “Total Request Live” show in the aftermath of the R&B singer’s indictment on child pornography charges.
MTV’s quiet shuffling of its video rotation last week marks the latest instance of fallout from Jackson’s bosom-baring performance at the Super Bowl, which sparked a public uproar and the promise of an inquiry by federal regulators.
MTV, which produced the halftime extravaganza, has apologized for the Jackson episode and insisted the stunt was not part of the planned show. MTV’s sister broadcast network CBS, which aired the Feb. 1 Super Bowl telecast, reacted by implementing a five-minute delay for its broadcast a week later of the Grammy Awards.
CBS also demanded that Jackson and Timberlake, who ripped open Jackson’s Super Bowl costume to briefly reveal her right breast, apologize on air as a condition for appearing on the Grammy telecast as planned. Timberlake obliged, but Jackson opted out of the event altogether.
NBC, a unit of General Electric Co., last week edited out a brief glimpse of an elderly woman’s breast in an emergency room scene on the hit hospital drama “ER.”