When NBC Sports televised the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Banquet 400 from the Kansas Speedway last weekend, a new production element played a prominent role –a five-second delay.
On the heels of record FCC fines against Viacom-owned CBS television stations totaling $550,000 for their Super Bowl halftime incident and the use of a four-letter word by Dale Earnhardt Jr. during an NBC broadcast Oct. 3 from Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, the network decided to institute the delay.
According to a statement from NBC Universal Sports & Olympics Chairman Dick Ebersol, the network was “disappointed for viewers” but took action to provide “a level of protection against anything inappropriate going out over the air.”
Initially, the network hoped that the delay would only be used during pre- and post-race coverage. However, the decision was made to expand the delay to the actual race so reporters in the pit wouldn’t be limited in interviewing drivers, crew chiefs and team owners as events unfolded under the pressure and intensity of the moment.
For more than half of a century, major sporting events have aired live, Ebersol said. The network is not the first to take such defensive measures. Without much fanfare, ABC has introduced a delay into this season's Monday Night Football.
For more information, visit www.msnbc.msn.com.