CBS Corp. v. Fed. Commc'n Comm'n, No. 06-3575 (3d Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
In 2008 the Third Circuit ruled that the Federal Communications Commission's imposition of a $550,000 fine on CBS was arbitrary. The fine was based on a 2004 incident: the exposure, for nine-sixteenths of one second, of Janet Jackson's bare right breast during the live halftime performance of Super Bowl XXXVIII. The Supreme Court remanded for consideration under its 2009 ruling in F.C.C. v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., which concerned the FCC's decision to abandon its "fleeting words" safe harbor for expletives that are not repeated. On remand, the Third Circuit readopted its earlier holding that the penalty on CBS amounted to an unannounced policy change.The evidence weighed against the FCC contention that its restrained enforcement policy for fleeting material extended only to fleeting words and not to fleeting images.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on November 18, 2011.