NBC Apologizes for M.I.A. Giving the Finger at Halftime (Updated)

NBC can’t react fast enough to censor obscene gesture from British rocker M.I.A. during Madonna’s halftime show at Super Bowl. Parents Television Council joins chorus decrying incident

As Super Bowl embarrassments go, it wasn't all that.

Nonetheless, NBC issued an apology for the single extended middle finger by guest singer M.I.A. at the halftime show.

"We apologize for the inappropriate gesture that aired during halftime," NBC spokesman Christopher McCloskey said. "It was a spontaneous gesture that our delay system caught late."

Also read: M.I.A. Flips the Bird as Madonna Tries to Keep Super Bowl Halftime Show Clean

The gesture, accompanied by a barely disguised expletive, came during a performance of Madonna's new single, "Give Me All Your Luvin."' At the end of her lines, M.I.A. appeared to sing "I don't give a (expletive)," although it was hard to hear clearly.

The sudden shock incident brought to mind Janet Jackson's infamous "wardrobe malfunction" eight years ago, but as opposed to the flashing of Janet Jackson's nipple during the 2004 halftime show, this hardly caused a ripple.

Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" raised a storm of controversy and put CBS in hot water with the Federal Communications Commission for years.

One faction for whom the NBC apology did not go far enough was the Parents Television Council. The group issued a statement Monday decrying the NFL and the network for the incident, which read in part:

“The mechanism NBC had in place to catch this type of material completely failed, and the network cannot say it was caught off guard. It has been eight years since the Janet Jackson striptease, and both NBC and the NFL knew full well what might happen.

"They chose a lineup full of performers who have based their careers on shock, profanity and titillation. Instead of preventing indecent material, they enabled it. M.I.A. used a middle finger shamelessly to bring controversial attention to herself, while effectively telling an audience filled with children, ‘F– you.’

“A simple apology rings hollow after yet another slap in the face to families, especially when NBC has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that it should be allowed to air all manner of indecent material at any time of day, even when children are watching."

The screen briefly blurred after M.I.A.'s gesture in what was an apparent late attempt to cut out the shot. The NFL, which produces the show, had no immediate comment.

The British singer M.I.A. is best known for her 2007 hit "Paper Planes," a Grammy nominee for record of the year that memorably features a sample of the Clash song, "Straight to Hell." It was featured on the soundtrack to the movie "Slumdog Millionaire."