A federal appeals court has thrown out the $550,000 indecency fine against CBS Corp. for the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show that ended with Janet Jackson’s breast-baring “wardrobe malfunction.” The three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that the Federal Communications Commission “acted arbitrarily and capriciously” in issuing the fine for the fleeting image of nudity. The 90 million people watching the Super Bowl, many of them children, heard Justin Timberlake sing, “Gonna have you naked by the end of this song,” and then he proceeded to partially undress Ms. Jackson.
The court found that the FCC deviated from its nearly 30-year practice of fining indecent broadcast programming only when it was so “pervasive as to amount to ‘shock treatment’ for the audience.” I have difficulty with the court’s decision and consider this a win for the broadcasting industry and a definite loss for the American people, who believe in morality and decency. Tim Winter of the watchdog organization, Parents Television Council, says the court’s decision “borders on judicial stupidity.” In this regard, he observed:
If a striptease during the Super Bowl in front of 90 million people — including millions of children — doesn’t fit the parameters of broadcast indecency, then what does?
The FCC had argued that Jackson’s nudity, albeit fleeting, was graphic and explicit and CBS should have been forewarned. The FCC said Jackson and Timberlake were employees of CBS and that the network should have to pay for their “willful” actions, given its lack of oversight. The $550,000 fine represented the maximum $27,500 levied against each of the network’s 20 owned-and-operated stations. I have to wonder when the American people will finally say the time has come for television programming, including the broadcast and cable channels, as well as satellite firms, to be cleaned up. I believe the time is now!
Source: Associated Press
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