Court tosses Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction fine

Good news for CBS today, in the form of a federal appeals court decision that threw out the FCC’s $550,000 indecency fine for Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show. The FCC had argued that Jackson’s nudity was graphic and explicit, thus meriting the maximum fine against the network and its stations. However, the court ruled that the FCC had deviated from its usual policy of imposing fines only in instances where the indecent programming was “pervasive”.

“The Commission’s determination that CBS’s broadcast of a nine-sixteenths of one second glimpse of a bare female breast was actionably indecent evidenced the agency’s departure from its prior policy,” the court said in its ruling.

There is no public comment yet from the FCC, though I can’t help wondering if their private reaction included any “indecent” use of language.

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