NBC Broadcasts Swimmer's Breast During Live Olympic Coverage

NBC Broadcasts Swimmer's Breast 2012

The incident adds another example for pundits to point to in their criticism of the network's coverage of the 2012 Games.

Just when media critics thought it was safe to watch television without fear of being exposed to bathing suit area body parts, NBC accidentally broadcast a wardrobe malfunction. During a live telecast for the Olympic water polo face-off between the U.S. and Spain, the network’s underwater camera caught a struggle between opposing players in which a female player’s breast was inadvertently exposed.

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Although there has been no public fallout as of yet, accidental network nudity has caused major controversy in the past. In 2004, CBS famously fielded criticisms from the media after Justin Timberlake unintentionally exposed Janet Jackson’s breast during a halftime performance at the Super Bowl, which resulted in a campaign by the Federal Communication Commission to fine the network as much as $500,000.

Whether or not the FCC decides to pursue the incident remains to be seen. But the pulling of swimsuits is considered fairly common practice in water polo, since it is a quite physical sport. Nevertheless, the incident only exacerbates the potential for criticisms of NBC for their coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games.

The network has received sustained criticism via social media and industry channels for its decision to broadcast much of the Olympic games on time delay to maximize advertising revenue while still reporting on wins and losses without sensitivity to whether or not all viewers had seen the matches that were being covered. It remains to be seen if the incident will be seen as validation for NBC’s decision not to broadcast competitions live, or will simply serve as more fuel for critics’ negative reactions to its handling of Olympic coverage.