NBC vows to air Janet Jackson live

Saturday, April 10, 2004

NEW YORK -- Viewers are used to watching "Saturday Night Live" aired live. Live, as in: as it happens, not five or seven seconds later, once the censors say it's safe for broadcast.

But is Janet Jackson safe to serve as host for "Saturday Night Live" -- live?

Live television, of course, has been on a death watch since Jackson (with Justin Timberlake's help) flashed her way into notoriety during the Super Bowl halftime show.

With viewers up in arms, the Federal Communications Commission on the war path and the networks on high alert that someone else might misbehave, tape delays have become the norm.

NBC insists it isn't changing its long-held policy of airing "SNL" live, at least for the East Coast. The last time "SNL" aired on tape delay was 14 years ago, when foul-mouthed comic Andrew Dice Clay was host.

The network is publicizing Jackson's appearance (10:30 p.m.) accordingly. "Anything could happen," cracks one promo, "as long as it meets FCC guidelines."

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