Court overturns ruling over Janet Jackson wardobe malfunction

July 22nd, 2008 - 9:13 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 22 (DPA) A US federal court Monday tossed out a government decision to fine broadcaster CBS $550,000 for indecency for the flashing of singer Janet Jackson’s breast during the Super Bowl Halftime Show in 2004. The US Court of Appeals in Philadelphia found the fine levelled by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “arbitrary and capricious” and not in keeping with past indecency rulings, in part because the incident was so brief and because the network had no knowledge that it would occur.

The incident occurred in February 2004 during a joint performance by Jackson and Justin Timberlake, who ripped off her bustier as part of a dance routine at the American football championship game, which is the most watched television event in the US.

Both singers then argued that the breast exposure, which occurred as Timberlake sang the lyrics “Gonna have you naked by the end of this song”, was accidental and the result of a “wardrobe malfunction”. Jackson’s breast was visible for just 9/10ths of a second, but prompted thousands of complaints from viewers.

The court’s decision said “the FCC cannot impose liability on CBS for the acts of Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, independent contractors hired for the limited purposes of the Halftime Show,” noting that the broadcaster had screened scripts of the show that did not contain indecent exposure.

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