FCC denies CBS request to reconsider indecency fine

June 8, 2006

CBS and its owned and operated stations will have to pay fines totaling $550,000 for a violation of FCC regulations against broadcast indecency related to the Feb. 1, 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.

On May 31, the FCC denied a network request to reconsider an earlier decision to fine the broadcaster for the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” incident.

In denying the request, the commission rejected the network’s claims that the halftime show was not indecent. Rather, the FCC determined that the violation was willful and declined to reduce the fine.

The commission also rejected the network’s argument that the FCC indecency rules are unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.

The Order rejects CBS’ claim that the halftime show was not indecent. The Commission affirms its finding that CBS’ violation was willful and declines to reduce the forfeiture imposed upon CBS. Finally, the Commission rejects CBS’ argument that the FCC’s indecency framework is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, both on its face and as applied to the halftime show.

Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein dissented in part with the commission decision, taking exception to missing an opportunity to more clearly define what the commission regards as indecent and objecting to limiting the fine to only CBS O&Os and not affiliates that televised the incident.

For more information, visit www.fcc.gov.

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