Less than a week after Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s celebratory curse word was broadcast live on NBC, the network announced it would begin using a five-second delay during its NASCAR coverage, starting with Sunday's race in Kansas City, Kan.
"We're disappointed for our viewers to have to do this, but the delay provides a level of protection against anything inappropriate going out over the air," NBC Universal Sports & Olympics Chairman Dick Ebersol said in a statement.
Dick Glover, NASCAR's vice president of broadcasting and new media, said the sanctioning body consulted with NBC about instituting the delay, but that the network made the final decision because "they're the ones who have the FCC issues. We absolutely and wholeheartedly support them," Glover added.
After Earnhardt said on NBC that his fifth career win at Talladega Superspeedway "don't mean [expletive] right now," NASCAR fined him $10,000 and penalized him 25 points on Tuesday, knocking him from first to second place in the championship standings.
Last month, the Federal Communications Commission fined 20 CBS-owned stations a record $550,000 in response to Janet Jackson's revealing Super Bowl halftime performance. Shortly before the fine officially was announced, ABC began using a five-second delay on its "Monday Night Football" telecasts.
"We're talking about live sports -- people say things," said television consultant Mike Trager, a former NBC Sports vice president. "Forcing the networks to go to delays takes the spontaneity out of it and doesn't make any real common sense, but the networks are going to protect themselves."
-- Dan Steinberg