Federal Court Says FCC Was Wrong to Charge CBS for Exposing Janet Jackson’s Nipple

Federal Court Says FCC Was Wrong to Charge CBS for Exposing Janet Jackson’s Nipple

A Federal Appeals Court in Philadelphia ruled that the FCC had improperly fined CBS $550,000 for broadcasting Janet Jackson's nipple-exposing "wardrobe malfunction" moment with Justin Timberlake during the Super Bowl halftime show in 2004.

Published November 2, 2011

A federal appeals court ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) acted improperly in fining CBS over the exposure of Janet Jackson’s breast during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, upholding an earlier decision.


The Philadelphia three-judge panel had previously ruled in 2008 that the FCC improperly assessed a $550,000 fine against the network for the wardrobe malfunction that lasted barely more than a half a second. But, last year, the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed. Citing a Fox Television-led challenge arguing that the FCC could threaten fines over the use of a single curse word on live TV, the High Court ordered the appeals court to review the ruling again. After another review, the panel sided again with the network.


The FCC "arbitrarily and capriciously departed from its prior policy excepting fleeting broadcast material" in assessing the fine, 3rd Circuit Judge Marjorie Rendell wrote.


During the much talked about performance, singer Justin Timberlake ripped off Jackson’s bustier, briefly exposing her breast and a silver “shield” that covered her nipple.



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(Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Written by Danielle Wright


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