Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell told CNBC's Alan Murray Wednesday that he found ABC's racy Monday Night Football introduction "very disappointing," adding, I wonder if Walt Disney would be proud."
Powell suggested that ABC had boiled up some of its own hot water on the indecency front. "It would seem to me that while we get a lot of broadcasting companies complaining about indecency enforcement, they seem to continuing to be willing to keep the issue at the forefront, keep it hot and steamy, in order to get financial gain from the free advertising it provides. I think companies have to make that decision for themselves."
Disney, in the form of ABC Sports, has already conceded it was a mistake and said it was sorry.
The intro was a parody of ABC's steamy smash drama, Desperate Housewives, and featured co-star Nicolette Sheridan seducing football star Terrell Owens while her co-stars look on on TV. ABC was promoting the show heavily to keep it top of mind since it had been preempted Sunday night for a music awards show.
After the Janet Jackson incident, the NFL has made it clear it does not want any more sexually suggestive surprises attaching themselves to its brand. It does not have editorial control over the intros, but it does over the Monday and Sunday night rights packages Disney is trying to renew.
Powell said that he thought the vast majority of broadcasters were within the lines and that the occasional high-profile complaint tended to be sensationalized. "We really deal with hundreds and thousands of these," he said, "and you never see them reported when we dismiss them, you never see them reported when they're less sensational."