Wardrobe Malfunction, Back in Court

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals will rehear the Janet Jackson Superbowl incident on Feb. 23, B&C’s John Eggerton reports.

Coupled with the Second Circuit’s plans to rehear an indecency case against Fox, for fleeting expletives uttered by Cher on an award broadcast, on Jan. 13, the two cases are the next chapter in what has been an ongoing saga that has pitted the networks against the FCC and its ability to issue slapdowns and fines for unexpected swearing and flashing.

Last year, you may recall, the Supreme Court ruled in the FCC’s favor in the Fox case, and handed it back to the lower court. The end result, however, could be a full challenge to the FCC’s ability to patrol indecent content.

CBS says in a brief filed in its case, “This Court should embrace the Supreme Court’s invitation to assess the
constitutionality of the indecency rules given current realities and find that
most applications can no longer survive First Amendment scrutiny.”

What’s also telling is FCC chairman Julius Genachowski defends the commission’s actions, made during the era of Bush appointed chairmen, but watchdog groups like the Parents Television Council are waiting to see what priority he and other commissioners give to more recent complaints.

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