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FCC Fines Viacom $550,000 for Indecency

FCC Fines Viacom $550,000 for Indecency

The FCC has found Viacom-owned CBS licensees of 20 TV stations apparently liable for broadcast indecency for the Super Bowl halftime show and proposed a total fine of $550,000. Each of the 20 stations was fined the maximum $27,500 penalty for indecency.
The show contained a musical performance that concluded with Justin Timberlake pulling off part of Janet Jackson’s clothing, exposing her breast.
In its decision, the FCC said it proposed the maximum amount against each of the 20 television stations that aired the show “due to the involvement of Viacom/CBS in the planning and approval of the telecast and the history of indecency violations committed by Viacom’s Infinity Broadcasting Corporation subsidiaries.”
Although other, more than 200 non-Viacom owned CBS affiliates also aired the material, it did not propose forfeitures against them because they had no control over the material, the agency said.
Chairman Michael Powell said of the fine, “No television event has ever received as many complaints from the American public – over 540,000 – as the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show produced by CBS. As countless families gathered around the television to watch one of our nation’s most celebrated events, they were rudely greeted with a halftime show stunt more fitting of a burlesque show.”
Both Commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps said the non-CBS-owned affiliates should have been fined as well and the overall amount was too low.
“This fine needs to be seen in the context of a broadcast in which each 30-second commercial cost more than $2 million,” said Copps.

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