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09.27.2004
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
FCC fines CBS $550,000 for Super Bowl flap

The FCC last week fined CBS stations a record $550,000 for its Super Bowl halftime show in which Janet Jackson’s breast was exposed for two seconds in a what was termed a “wardrobe malfunction.”

The commissioners voted unanimously to fine each of the 20 CBS-owned television stations the maximum fine of $27,500. The FCC claimed the stations were guilty of “apparently willfully broadcasting indecent material” during the Feb. 1 halftime show, when Jackson and Justin Timberlake performed together.

The FCC decided against fining the other 200-plus CBS affiliates that aired the show and are separately owned because they were not involved in the planning, selection or approval of the halftime festivities.

CBS does not accept the FCC’s finding that they violated any rules. In July, Leslie Moonves, who as co-president of Viacom oversees CBS, said he was leaning toward fighting the FCC in court if the network’s stations were fined.

CBS has 30 days to appeal. If CBS refuses to pay, the FCC can go to the Federal District Court to seek collection. Or CBS can pay the fine, and then appeal the decision.

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