News Flash: Janet Jackson’s boob freed! Headlines like this are hard not to comment on…
A federal appeals court has in Philly “has thrown out the $550,000 fine the FCC imposed on CBS for airing Janet Jackson’s breast for nine-sixteenths of a second during the Super Bowl halftime show in February 2004.”
The decision to free CBS from the fine imposed by the FCC over the “wardrobe malfunction” was based on the fact that “The FCC arbitrarily and capriciously departed from its prior policy excepting fleeting broadcast material from the scope of actionable indecency,” the court said.
The court ruled that because “the commission frequently declined to find broadcast programming indecent, its restraint punctuated only by a few occasions where programming contained indecent material so pervasive as to amount to ‘shock treatment’ for the audience,” it had effectively changed the rules on CBS without warning.
You can read the ruling in PDF format here, and I heartily recommend it for the play-by-play of the FCC’s dishonesty in its pursuit of alleged indecency under chairman Michael Powell.
Phew… We can all rest a little easier now knowing that the FCC will have to think twice before imposing a fine when a pop star’s wardrope malfunctions during a live broadcast.