PHILADELPHIA (CN) – The 3rd Circuit today threw out a $550,000 indecency fine against CBS for the famous “wardrobe malfunction” incident at the 2004 Super Bowl that exposed Janet Jackson’s breast to viewers for 9/16ths of a second.
The three-judge panel ruled that the FCC “acted arbitrarily and capriciously” in issuing the fine, and that the FCC deviated for a decades-long practice of issuing such fines for indecency only when it was so “pervasive as to amount to ‘shock treatment’ for the audience.”
“Like any agency, the FCC may change its policies without judicial second-guessing. But it cannot change a well-established course of action without supplying notice of and a reasoned explanation for its policy departure,” the court ruled.
The panel consisted of 3rd Circuit Chief Judge Anthony sirica, and Judges Marjorie Rendell and Julio Fuentes.