A federal appeals court on Wednesday has reaffirmed its previous ruling declaring that the Federal Communications Commission improperly fined CBS for televising Janet Jackson’s infamous wardrobe malfunction during the 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show.
Per the New York Times, the 3rd U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia made today’s declaration after the Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower court in 2009, and its 2-to-1 decision wasn’t much changed since issuing its first opinion back in July 2008.
The panel still believes the FCC unfairly punished the network when it levied a $550,000 fine, because the regulatory agency failed to inform CBS about a change in its indecency enforcement rules. Specifically, the judges ruled that while the FCC can crack down on indecent images such as Jackson’s exposed breast—even if it was flashed onscreen for less than a second—the commission still acted arbitrarily by altering its policy after the fact and not informing the network.
The FCC released a statement expressing disappointment with the ruling.
“We are pleased that the court did not question the FCC’s statutory responsibility to regulate indecent broadcasting,” said the agency. “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. 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.”
No word whether regulators will appeal.
The FCC slapped CBS with the $550,000 penalty in September 2004 and the network’s first appeal was denied in February 2005. The commission subsequently rejected a second appeal in May 2006, arguing that CBS planned the chesty stunt deliberately. However, the 3rd Court of Appeals eventually threw out the fine.