Miley's wild show would violate network indecency regulations, but it's safe on cable
Miley Cyrus can’t be tamed – and MTV can’t be fined for it, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
Cyrus, 22, delivered on her promise for the "craziest" VMAs in history when she hosted the unpredictable award show on Sunday. The singer accidentally flashed her breast while addressing the camera and made numerous references to marijuana. “Yeah, I smoke pot,” she sang while performing her new song “Dooo It!” And earlier in the night, Cyrus ate edible marijuana treats in a sketch with Snoop Dogg.
Although MTV told the Associated Press Cyrus’s nudity will not be in reruns, the initial airing did not actually violate indecency regulations, FCC spokesperson Neil Grace confirmed to PEOPLE. That’s because cable channels such as MTV aren’t held to the same standards as over-the-air TV networks, including ABC, CBS and NBC.
“Cable companies still try to police themselves to avoid indecent programming, but mainly because they worry about losing corporate sponsors,” said attorney David O’Connor, who specializes in communications law. “Legally they are protected.”
Viewers still have the ability to file complaints with the FCC. As of press time, the commission did not disclose a final tally of Americans who officially voiced concern over the show’s content.
In this case, MTV gave the VMAs a TV-14 rating. According to the TV Parental Guidelines, programs in this category may contain “material that many parents would find unsuitable for children under 14 years of age,” including “intensely suggestive dialogue (D), strong coarse language (L), intense sexual situations (S), or intense violence (V).”
MTV came under fire for producing Janet Jackson’s Superbowl show in 2004, during which part of the singer’s breast was revealed. The program aired on CBS, though, meaning MTV was not held responsible. “If the Super Bowl had been on MTV instead of CBS in 2004, the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake halftime show would have been a non-issue,” said O’Connor.