First Amendment topicsAbout the First Amendment
News Story
 
CBS asks 3rd Circuit to overturn Super Bowl fine

By The Associated Press
07.31.06

WASHINGTON — CBS asked a federal appeals court on July 28 to set aside the $550,000 fine by the Federal Communications Commission against the broadcaster for airing Janet Jackson’s breast-baring performance during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.

The television network argued the fine was “unconstitutional, contrary to the Communications Act and FCC rules and generally arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law.”

The petition for review was filed in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. CBS agreed to turn over the fine money, a prerequisite for filing the appeal.

CBS noted in a statement that it had apologized for “the inappropriate and unexpected” episode and had put in place safeguards to prevent a recurrence. “However, we disagree strongly with the FCC’s conclusions and will continue to pursue all remedies necessary to affirm our legal rights.”

The FCC said it would fight to uphold the fine.

“CBS’ continued insistence that the halftime show was not indecent demonstrates that it is out of touch with the American people,” said FCC spokeswoman Tamara Lipper. “Millions of parents, as well as Congress, understand what CBS does not: Janet Jackson’s ‘wardrobe malfunction’ was indeed indecent.”

The halftime show aired on Feb. 1, 2004, to an estimated audience of 90 million. During a musical number, singer Justin Timberlake pulled off part of Jackson’s bustier, briefly exposing one of her breasts.

After a flood of complaints, the FCC issued a fine against the network and each of the 20 network-owned stations that aired the show, totaling $550,000.

The breast-baring episode kicked off a record year for indecency fines imposed by the agency and led Congress to pass a tenfold increase in the maximum fines for indecent broadcasting.

The FCC already is embroiled in court fights over fines it issued on March 15 penalizing foul language in a number of television shows. Several major broadcasters have asked federal courts in New York and the District of Columbia to overturn the fines.


Update
3rd Circuit to study 'wardrobe malfunction'
Panel to decide whether 2004 Super Bowl halftime incident was indecent or fleeting, accidental glitch that shouldn't be punished. 09.11.07

Previous
FCC proposes $3.9 million in fines for indecent TV programming
Record fine would punish CBS for episode of 'Without a Trace' crime drama depicting teen orgy. 03.16.06

Related

Battling TV indecency is latest rage; is censorship next?

Public may be looking for more choices — that would include cleaner fare — rather than more regulation. 04.28.05

NFL edits out explicit Rolling Stones lyrics
Officials excise two sexually explicit lyrics from rock legends' performance during Super Bowl halftime. 02.06.06

TV networks, stations challenge FCC indecency ruling
Broadcasters call federal enforcement of rules on profane language vague, inconsistent. 04.17.06

Bush signs broadcast-decency law
Large increase in fines will force broadcasters to 'take seriously their duty to keep the public airwaves free of obscene, profane and indecent material,' president says. 06.16.06

PBS chief calls indecency rules unclear, 'paralyzing'
Paula Kerger says FCC regulations, fines put public TV stations at risk, threaten to deprive viewers of important programs. 07.29.06

FCC wants to reconsider indecency ruling
Attorney asks 2nd Circuit to delay hearing broadcasters' lawsuit so that agency can review its finding that 'NYPD Blue,' three other TV shows violated indecency rules. 08.30.06

Some stations hesitate to air 9/11 documentary
CBS affiliates wary of possible fines over firefighters' foul language as decency group vows to flood FCC with complaints. 09.05.06

2nd Circuit halts enforcement of tougher FCC indecency rules
Court also grants commission's request for additional two months to review its finding that 'NYPD Blue,' three other TV shows violated indecency guidelines. 09.08.06

FCC drops 2, keeps 2 obscenity charges against TV shows
Fox spokesman says decision 'highlights our concern about the government's inability to issue consistent, reasoned decisions in highly sensitive First Amendment cases.' 11.07.06

FCC to TV viewers: Watch what we say
By Paul K. McMasters Pressure for more-aggressive regulation of broadcast indecency raises significant First Amendment concerns for viewers as well as creators of TV programming. 04.09.06

News summary page
View the latest news stories throughout the First Amendment Center Online.

print this   Print


Last system update: Friday, July 25, 2008 | 07:59:39
 SEARCH  MORE
About this site
About the First Amendment
About the First Amendment Center
Video/RSS/podcasts
First Amendment programs
State of the First Amendment
reports

First Reports
Supreme Court
Experts
Columnists
First Amendment publications
First Amendment Center history
Glossary
Freedom Sings™
Events
First Amendment
Schools

Congressional Research Service reports
Guest editorials
FOI material
The First Amendment
Library

Lesson plans
freedomforum.org
Newseum
Contact us
Privacy statement
Related links