Court to review CBS indecency fine

Government appeal granted over Janet Jackson incident

NEW YORK -- The Supreme Court on Monday granted a U.S. government appeal and ordered a further review and possible reinstatement of the $550,000 fine against CBS Corp. TV stations for broadcasting a glimpse of pop singer Janet Jackson's breast during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.

The justices sent the case back to a federal appeals court for further review after a ruling last week that upheld a U.S. government policy that subjects broadcasters to fines for airing a single expletive blurted out on a live television show.

A U.S. court of appeals in Philadelphia had ruled last year that the FCC acted "arbitrarily and capriciously" in issuing the fine for what it said was a "fleeting" image of nudity lasting nine-sixteenths of a second.

"Today's procedural decision by the Supreme Court is not unexpected given their decision in the Fox case last week, despite the differences in the two cases," CBS said in a statement. "We are confident that in reviewing the case the Third Circuit will again recognize that the Super Bowl incident, while inappropriate and regrettable, was not and could not have been anticipated by CBS."

The company added: "This remains an important issue for the entire broadcasting industry because it recognizes that there are rare instances, particularly during live programming, when despite best efforts it may not be possible to block unfortunate fleeting material."