Supreme Court Revives ‘Wardrobe Malfunctions’ Case

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The Supreme Court revived a possible $550,000 fine against broadcast network CBS, following up on a ruling from last week, for having shown a split-second image of Janet Jackson’s breast during a Super Bowl halftime show in 2004.

The Philadelphia court had ruled that the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) did not give broadcasters enough notice of a policy change on “fleeting images” of “indecency” and that the nudity was probably accidental.

The final conclusion will be reevaluated by the appeals court. The Supreme Court backed the FCC’s zero-tolerance policy last week regarding broadcasting of “fleeting expletives.”

The FCC had received many complaints after the exposure occurred on televisions. The Parents Television Council was one group which praised the justices for “siding” with the families in this case.

CBS, however, downplayed the court’s order. “The Super Bowl incident, while inappropriate and regrettable, was not and could not have been anticipated by CBS,” said the network.

Last week, the high court ruled that the FCC could fine broadcasting stations who aired the F-word during prime time television. Even if the show is live, and the word is said by a guest, it would remain. The decision overturned a ruling by an appeals court in New York that said the agency’s policy change was not justified and unfair.

Both cases will decide whether these heavy fines violate the network’s constitutional right to freedom of speech.

Monday’s order made it clear that the “wardrobe malfunction,” which lasted 9/16 of a second, will remain in courts for at least another year.

 

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