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FCC: MNF Opening Not Indecent

The Federal Communications Commission has denied indecency complaints against ABC's Monday Night Football promo featuring Desperate Housewives' Nicolette Sheridan and Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens.

The FCC concluded the suggestive spot, which featured Sheridan dropping a towell and jumping into Owen's arms, not "sufficiently explicit or graphic" to be ruled indecent.

Looking to get more promotional bang for its new hit, ABC put Desperate Housewives star Sheridan in a provocative Nov. 15 MNF opening opening where, clad only in a towel, she tries to seduce Owens. Owens protests that he is ready for some football until the lovely lady drops her towel and throws herself at him--discreetly filmed but the import is clear--and Owens decides the gridiron will have to wait.

The show is a sometimes steamy look at four housewives and the people they love, hate, sleep with and look after.

“ABC’s opening was inappropriate and unsuitable for our Monday Night Football audience," said the NFL at the time. ABC, which is trying to renegotiate  its NFL Monday and Sunday night reights, quickly apologized.

The FCC explained its decision this way: "Owens is fully dressed throughout the segment, and, with the exception of a moment when her bare back is exposed to the audience, Sheridan is at all times fully covered with a towel.No sexual or excretory organs are shown or described, and no sexual activities are explicitly depicted or described.Furthermore, the scene where Sheridan drops her towel and jumps into Owens’s arms is brief.Although the scene apparently is intended to be titillating, it simply is not graphic or explicit enough to be indecent under our standard. "

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.