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FCC Wary of Greeks Baring Gifts at Games

By Lisa de Moraes
Saturday, December 11, 2004; Page C01

In response to one or more indecency complaints, the Federal Communications Commission has asked NBC to send it tapes of its coverage of the Summer Olympics Opening Ceremonies in Athens, the network confirmed late yesterday.

Ironically, the night before, NBC's Summer Games coverage was named the family-friendliest special of 2004 during WB's broadcast of the sixth annual Family Television Awards. The awards are given by the Family Friendly Programming Forum, a group of 46 major national advertisers working to encourage networks to produce more family-friendly prime-time fare.

A woman with an unusual paunch took a dip in the Opening Ceremonies' wading pool last summer. (Tom Hanson -- AP)

An FCC rep declined to comment on the specific request. But one source familiar with the FCC's investigative procedures explained that a request for a tape is generally the first step to help the commission determine whether a complaint has enough merit to warrant further inquiry.

It's unclear what aspect of NBC's coverage of the ceremonies has knotted the knickers of someone who has corresponded with the FCC, word of which was first reported by trade paper Mediaweek on its Web site late yesterday.

But on the day of the Opening Ceremonies back in August -- about six months after Janet Jackson bared her breast during CBS's broadcast of the Super Bowl -- NBC took some questions from sports reporters who were on the scene. These were guys who apparently don't go to museums much and had watched the dress rehearsal and seen performers representing classical Greek statues and mythological gods and goddesses in the various states of undress that were so fashionable in days gone by. They demanded to know whether NBC intended to subject the flower of American youth, watching back at home, to such a wanton display of Greekness.

(The Opening Ceremonies also included thespians depicting lovers frolicking in the world's largest puddle and a young woman in a shift wading about aimlessly in the same puddle. She appeared to have been impregnated by someone who was radioactive, but we cannot say with certainty whether that was Greek or just weird.)

At the time, according to news accounts of the kerfuffle, an NBC representative assured the reporters that "NBC has the highest standards."

And now, thank goodness, the FCC has stepped in to determine, once and for all, whether that is, in fact, the case.

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