ABC getting heat for risque fashion show

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

NEW YORK -- ABC says critics of its racy Victoria's Secret fashion special should see what hit the cutting-room floor.

The network, which is taking heat for devoting a prime-time hour to supermodels strutting in underwear, said it deleted camera shots that showed more skin.

"There has certainly been racier things on television than this," said Andrea Wong, the ABC executive in charge of alternative programming.

Groups like the National Organization for Women and the Parents Television Council criticized ABC for airing the special, and a Federal Communications Commission member asked for an investigation into whether it violated indecency regulations.

The special drew 12.3 million viewers Thursday, finishing third in its time slot and doing marginally better than the show it replaced. "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," which normally airs at that time, has an average audience of just under 11 million.

Michael Copps, an FCC commissioner, said he received dozens of complaints about the show and promotions for it that ran in advance.

"I would hope that television broadcasters would go the extra mile in exercising self-discipline when airing programming during the hours when children are likely to be in the audience," Copp said.

ABC pointed out that the program was clearly identified as being for mature viewers and that parents had the opportunity to tune it out.

Wong said ABC was assured that the fashion show would be no racier than the one Victoria's Secret sponsored as a Web cast last year. Still, ABC's standards division went over the show carefully before it was aired, she said.

"There are certain things that not everybody in the world is going to be happy with," she said. "It's impossible to please everyone."

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