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3rd Circuit says FCC wrongfully fined CBS

FCC fined broadcaster $550,000 over "wardrobe malfunction"

Remember that half-time “wardrobe malfunction” that dominated the news for months after the 2004 Superbowl aired? Well, it’s back in the news.

To refresh: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fined CBS Corp. $550,000 in 2004 after Janet Jackson’s breast was exposed on the air during the Super Bowl half-time show.

CBS appealed the FCC’s fine in 2006, and the 3rd Circuit threw out the fine in 2008. The case eventually made it to the Supreme Court, which sent it back to the 3rd Circuit in 2009.

On Tuesday, the 3rd Circuit—for the second time—threw out the FCC’s fine.

“While we are disappointed by the court of appeals decision, we note that the court overturned the FCC’s 2006 forfeiture order on narrow procedural grounds,” the FCC said in a statement. “In the meantime, the FCC will continue to use all of the authority at its disposal to ensure that the nation’s broadcasters fulfill the public interest responsibilities that accompany their use of the public airwaves.”


Cathleen Flahardy

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