CBS has won another round in Janet Jackson's infamous wardrobe malfunction case. On Wednesday, November 2, a divided 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was wrong to fine the network $550,000 for the singer's exposed breast during the halftime Super Bowl performance in 2004.
In the three-judge panel's words, FCC improperly imposed a penalty on CBS for violating a previously unannounced policy. "An agency may not apply a policy to penalize conduct that occurred before the policy was announced," Circuit Judge Marjorie Rendell wrote.
CBS has expressed its gratitude for the ruling. "We are gratified that once again the court has ruled in our favor. We are hopeful that this will help lead the FCC to return to the policy of restrained indecency enforcement it followed for decades," the network said in a statement.
Meanwhile, FCC was "disappointed" with the Court of Appeals' decision in the case. It stated, "The FCC will continue to use all of the authority at its disposal to ensure that the nation's broadcasters fulfill the public interest responsibilities that accompany their use of the public airwaves."
The Parents Television Council backed up FCC as the organization's president Tim Winter said, "Today's ruling reaches the level of judicial stupidity and is a sucker-punch to families everywhere." He added, "How can nudity and a striptease in front of 90 million unsuspecting TV viewers not qualify as indecency?"
Back in 2008, the 3rd Circuit panel had ruled that FCC had "arbitrarily and capriciously departed from its prior policy." The panel was unanimous in its previous ruling and reached the same conclusion this Wednesday.
Janet's breast was exposed for less than a second at the 2004 Super Bowl show when she was performing on stage with Justin Timberlake. At that time, the former NSYNC member ripped off his duet partner's bustier toward the end of their performance.