Appeals Court Reverses CBS Fine Over Janet Jackson's Superbowl Exposure

A federal appeals court today overturned the FCC's fine on CBS resulting from Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" in which her breast was exposed during her Superbowl halftime appearance.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit said the Federal Communications Commission had "arbitrarily and capriciously departed from its prior policy" that exempted fleeting broadcast material from actionable indecency violations.

Like any agency, the FCC may change its policies without judicial second-guessing. But it cannot change a well- established course of action without supplying notice of and a reasoned explanation for its policy departure," Chief Judge Anthony Scirica wrote for the three-judge panel that heard the case.

CBS says it hopes the FCC will now revert to its past policy of "restrained indecency enforcement." [More...]

"This is an important win for the entire broadcasting industry because it recognizes that there are rare instances, particularly during live programming, when it may not be possible to block unfortunate fleeting material, despite best efforts," CBS said in its statement.

The FCC Chairman said today's decision is a disappointment for families and parents. It's not disappointing for any families and parents that I know. How about you?

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  • Display: Sort:
    wow (5.00 / 7) (#1)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 05:39:53 PM EST
    a tiny ray of sanity in a completely insane world.

    The lawyers made out well. (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by pie on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 05:44:43 PM EST

    "unfortunate fleeting material" (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 05:48:34 PM EST
    aka the nipple that conquered america.

    If I were Janet's boob (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by ruffian on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 05:55:01 PM EST
    I'd be insulted by that characterization - "unfortunate fleeting material" .

    I'd also be very popular on utube.


    Guess they will have to be 18 for art museums (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by BarnBabe on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 06:07:42 PM EST
    The FCC Chairman said today's decision is a disappointment for families and parents.
    Most kids did not even notice what happened. I saw it. My 15 year old neighbor who was watching missed the whole thing. I said "Ha, did you see that?" And he said, "See what?" AND, that star shield on her boobie looked uncomfortable. What did they put on it to stick? Duck tape? The whole thing was just foolish including the accidental (Yeah, right) wardrobe malfunction.

    But...but...but... (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by Radiowalla on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 06:22:10 PM EST
    what will THE CHILLLLLLLLDREN say?

    Most children would say something like ... (5.00 / 3) (#13)
    by Ellie on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 07:11:20 PM EST
    ... "A boob is the second thing I saw just after that up close and personal view of women's even more naughty area that marked Day One of my official life on Planet Earth!"

    Already did that one. (none / 0) (#11)
    by Fabian on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 07:05:25 PM EST
    I was trying to use a breast pump discretely during a holiday gathering.  My 9 year old nephew saw me and I gave him a quick explanation and he moved on.  I then had to explain the whole incident to my brother because he is the noncustodial parent and just in case his son said something to his mother...yada, yada.  Gotta CYA!

    So the flash of nipple incident/accident (which I never did see) seems ridiculously overblown.  


    LOL ... amazing how upside down it gets (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by Ellie on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 07:19:17 PM EST
    Clown boobs (the non-functional backwards personal air bags, that is) are perfectly fine to sell everything from appliances to zamboni, but people will seriously get in a bunch over seeing a boob "in action" (as it were.)

    a cute little bit of flesh, neh (none / 0) (#5)
    by Nettle on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 05:55:56 PM EST
    Spying on family and parents, yeh.

    Good Work (none / 0) (#6)
    by squeaky on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 05:56:23 PM EST
    This episode made a laughing stock of America. Glad it was reversed.

    Can Dems still re-cry about it before Cengress (none / 0) (#7)
    by Ellie on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 05:59:22 PM EST
    ... and shore up that all-important election-year morality cred? It could flesh out (so to speak) with what Obama's collecting at the megachurches.

    Spousy divides the "cultural" stuff into b/g-scout merit badges represented by genitalia and other despicable body parts.

    The design for the anti-t!tillation one's kind of cool; I found myself actually wishing such a patch existed.

    Lets not get too excited.... (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 06:19:18 PM EST
    nipples are still very much considered obscene, you just can't fine the network if nipplage is accidentally exposed during a live broadcast.  

    Pre-meditated nipplage is still a grave offense.

    Man-nipples (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by Carolyn in Baltimore on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 08:25:09 PM EST
    and man-boobs are in the open all the time - and rated PG and G.
    This just reminds me (again) of the double standards we live with every day.
    When the extra private office was unavailable I got to pump my baby's food in a  stall.

    Come a little north.... (none / 0) (#23)
    by kdog on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 08:49:39 AM EST
    as squeaky said below in NY State all nipples are equal, whether they are life-giving nipples or not.

    What about camel toes? (none / 0) (#12)
    by Fabian on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 07:07:18 PM EST
    Is that obscene or not?

    LOL (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by ruffian on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 08:24:50 PM EST
    Yes, emphatically yes.

    Not In New York (none / 0) (#20)
    by squeaky on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 09:25:43 PM EST
    All nipples are equal. What is good for Adam Is good for Eve.

    Yeah.... (none / 0) (#22)
    by kdog on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 08:47:52 AM EST
    we got that one right squeak....the FCC is stuck in an episode of "Leave it to Beaver".

    Though I'm disappointed more women don't excercise their new found equality in this regard:)


    Hah (none / 0) (#24)
    by squeaky on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 10:47:31 AM EST
    The problem is obvious. Relentless gawking and harassment would ensue, with the police offering no protection, and likely contributing to the mayhem.

    I wouldn't be surprised it bare chested women would themselves be arrested for a trumped up charge along the lines of screaming fire in a crowded movie theater.

    Besides it is not quite a Rosa Parks issue.


    It took four years... (none / 0) (#15)
    by OrangeFur on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 08:11:29 PM EST
    ... to settle a fine of about a half-million dollars? Did CBS want to contest the principle> I can't imagine it was worth it for them.

    These seemingly small (none / 0) (#18)
    by Lil on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 08:29:15 PM EST
    victories make me feel like I can breathe again.  There was a time under the Bush Evangelical Administration that I thought we would never get back to normalcy (or something close to it). It seemed for awhile that the right wing won every decision big or small. Now as Capt Howdy says, "a ray of sanity". BTW, I have kids and I have to admit I saw it live and then rewound it several times because I was shocked, but definitely not bothered. I'm much more concerned that my 7 year old hears about violence and war than that overblown incident. To me this is a symbol that some sanity may be creeping back into our society as opposed to extremism.

    Are people still talking about this? (none / 0) (#19)
    by Paprika on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 08:50:12 PM EST
    The furor over the whole thing is more effective in deterring publicity stunts of this nature (and it was a publicity stunt) than any fine would have been.

    Who cares anyway? If kids want to see nipples, they can head for the internet, they don't have to rely on CBS.

    I've been confused by terminology (none / 0) (#21)
    by wurman on Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 10:04:50 PM EST
    I saw it on the instant.

    Nipple slip???  Looked like the whole thing to me.

    My recall is that the mammary gland had a Texas Ranger's badge pinned to it or "pastied" upon it.

    Why are boobs so wrong anyway? (none / 0) (#25)
    by Turbulent Confusion on Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 11:44:12 AM EST
    I have no idea why boobs are considered indecent to begin with?  I mean, who cares really.  

    If we are a population would stop making such a big deal of things like butts, boobs, etc it might actually stop the stupidity of the "moral" Minority in the US. It is very tiring to hear all of the biblical purpose of laws, rules and bills from our elected officials, only then to hear about those very same officials partaking in behavior that they rule against on a daily basis.

    This is not saying that I believe that we should have men walking around with their junk hanging out (I am a man so this is my disclaimer), nor do I think it would be within reason to have a woman showing her junk either;  that said if a dude can walk around in a speedo and no shirt, then why can't a woman?

    We as a modern society, and a THINKING society should be able to talk to our children about all aspects of life, our hiding of thoughts of sexual as well as non-sexual behaviors needs to be re-visited.  you never know, it might actually help our teen pregnancy rates and that of sexual offenses go down.