Review of Janet Jackson ‘wardrobe malfunction’ fine sought

Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.
(Elise Amedonla / Associated Press)

The Federal Communications Commission has asked the Supreme Court to review a lower court’s decision to rescind the $550,000 fine the FCC gave CBS after the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2004.

In January, the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals denied a full-court rehearing of the 2011 decision by a three-judge panel that the FCC’s fine of CBS stations was arbitrary and was a policy change for which CBS stations were improperly penalized.

The FCC said in its petition Wednesday that the 3rd Circuit court should not have found that its indecency policy was an “arbitrary and capricious” departure from precedent.

The incident in question took place when Jackson and Justin Timberlake performed a medley of their songs. As Timberlake reached his final line of his song, “Rock Your Body,” Timberlake pulled off a part of Jackson’s costume, revealing her right breast, partially covered by a piece of nipple jewelry, for less than a second. The CBS broadcast cut away quickly, but not before the picture was sent to millions of viewers’ televisions.


Jackson and Timberlake maintain the incident was an accident caused by a “wardrobe malfunction.”


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FCC asks Supreme Court to review Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction fine