FCC Denies CBS Request to Reconsider Flash Dance Fine

The FCC denied a request by CBS to reconsider a unanimous decision to fine the network $550,000 for the appearance of Janet Jackson's breast during the 2004 Super Bowl telecast.

The order rejected the CBS claim that the halftime show was not indecent. It also rejected the network's argument that the indecency framework is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.

The decision to fine CBS came down in March. The total represents individual fines of $27,500 for each of the 20 CBS owned-and-operated stations. Affiliates were not fined because the FCC determined they couldn't possibly have anticipated Jackson's behavior. Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein disagreed in his lone partial dissents to the March decision, and the order made public this week.

"I continue to believe the commission has decided erroneously to fine only CBS owned-and-operated stations, not all stations that broadcasted the indecent material," Adelstein stated. "Notwithstanding the fact that this commission has always purported to apply a national indecency standard on the broadcast medium, the commission has failed to penalize the vast majority of stations that actually broadcasted the offending halftime performance."