NBC expressed regret Monday for an Emmy Awards comedy skit that included a mock plane crash and aired on the network the evening of a fatal Kentucky jetliner accident.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to the many families who lost loved ones in the plane crash in Kentucky on Sunday, and to the entire community that has suffered this terrible loss," NBC said in a statement the day after the ceremony (MSNBC is a joint venture between NBC and Microsoft).
"In no way would we ever want to make light of this terrible tragedy," NBC said. "The filmed opening during the Emmy telecast was meant to spoof some of television's most well-known scenes. The timing was unfortunate, and we regret any unintentional pain it may have caused."
The prerecorded skit was broadcast as part of the live Emmy ceremony just hours after a commuter jet taking off in Lexington, Ky., crashed into a field and burst into flames, killing 49 people. Only a co-pilot survived.
Criticism of the sequence appeared on Web sites Sunday night, including the Los Angeles Times', with a columnist for the paper calling it "cringe-inducing" and "of questionable taste."
The airing of the skit, a spoof on the ABC plane-crash drama "Lost," was condemned by the general manager of NBC's Lexington affiliate, WLEX.
"It was a live telecast. We were completely helpless," Tim Gilbert was quoted as saying Sunday night on the Lexington Herald-Leader's Web site. "By the time we began to react, it was over. At the station, we were as horrified as they were at home."
The segment, which opened the Emmys, started with host Conan O'Brien boarding a private plane to Los Angeles. Asked by a stewardess if he was nervous about hosting the show, O'Brien answered "Nervous? What could possibly go wrong?"
The plane then pitched violently and a crash was implied but not shown. Instead, the skit cut to O'Brien stranded on an island resembling the one in "Lost."