TDCAA TDCAA Community Appellate The Federal Third Circuit Reverses the FCC's fining of CBS for nipplegate
Court overturns FCC's Janet Jackson nip-slip fine
By Matthew Lasar | Published: July 21, 2008 - 01:55PM CT
In a devastating blow to the Federal Communications Commission's crackdown on "fleeting" expletives and images, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down the agency's $550,000 fine against CBS for broadcasting Janet Jackson's famous quickie breast exposure scene from the halftime show of the 2004 Super Bowl. The court not only calls the new policy "arbitrary and capricious," but held that CBS was not responsible for the actions of the dancers: Jackson and Justin Timberlake. "Both performers were acting as independent contractors for the limited purpose of providing entertainment services for one isolated, brief program," the justices ruled.
In the end, the court ruled that CBS did its best to control Jackson and Timberlake's performance within the context of its independent contractor relationship with the two performers. "When a broadcaster endeavors to exercise proper control, but ultimately fails, to prevent unscripted indecency, it will not have acted with scienter [knowledge of deliberate wrongdoing]," the justices argued, "if its actions were negligent rather than reckless."
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(Note: The story goes on to tell how Cher and Nicole Richie will be the center of a case the Supreme Court will take up next fall. I can hardly wait.)
I was getting a beer when it came out.
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