Supreme Court Lets CBS Off The Hook For 'Nipplegate' -- But Not In The Future
June 29, 2012 at 1:47 PM (PT)
The SUPREME COURT ruled that the FCC imposed "unfair punishment for isolated profanity and sexual content" by fining CBS and its affiliates $550,000 for JANET JACKSON's "wardrobe malfunction" during the 2004 SUPER BOWL halftime show. The FCC is now obligated to refund the fine to CBS, CNN reports.
The High Court let stand the ruling by the 3rd Circuit U.S. COURT OF APPEALS panel that found the FCC had acted "arbitrarily and capriciously" because it didn't give the media companies proper prior warning about subsequent changes in its enforcement policies.
While Chief Justice JOHN ROBERTS sided with the majority, he did note that "The agency never stated that the (fleeting expletives) exception applied to fleeting images as well, and there was good reason to believe that it did not ... As every schoolchild knows, a picture is worth a thousand words, and CBS broadcast this particular picture to millions of impressionable children."
Which means "Any future 'wardrobe malfunctions' will not be protected on the ground relied on by the court below."