Point-counterpoint on FCC Supreme appeal


U.S. Supreme CourtThe FCC is asking to make a Supreme Court case out of the infamous Janet Jackson 2004 Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction case, so we thought we’d look at what a pair of media watchdogs had to say about it.

PTC’s Tim Winter said, “We are pleased to learn that the FCC will seek Supreme Court review of the infamous Janet Jackson ‘wardrobe malfunction’ during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show. Eight years after the fact, it’s important to remember the impact of that incident on American families – there were more than a half million complaints filed with the FCC, multiple Congressional hearings and ultimately higher fines for broadcasters who violated the law. We are hopeful that the high court will hear this case to ensure that the networks are held accountable and the broadcast decency law is enforced.”

After the FCC lost this case at the Appeals level, Center for Creative Voices in Media commented, “Creative media artists understand the Commission’s desire to address complaints, some well-founded, about television programming. But the Commission’s ‘cure’ for indecent programming is proving worse than the disease. It does not serve the public’s interest – including the interest of America’s children — in a vibrant, diverse, creative, and challenging media. It turns the Commission, and the small group of determined activists who bombard it with canned indecency complaints, into the arbiters of what all Americans can watch in the privacy of their own homes. Polls consistently show that the vast majority of Americans prefer to decide for themselves what to watch on TV. The First Amendment gives them that right.”

RBR-TVBR observation: If it’s all about the children, we have to point out that our daughter witnessed this event on television. She was six at the time. She seems to have grown up into a fine young woman despite seeing this incident and other programming that gets the content nannies all worked up. Just saying.

Let’s make a couple more points about this particular incident. For starters, I was also watching that half-time show, and the nip-slip was so heinous, so shocking, so horrifying that I missed it completely. I could have blinked, or reached for a snack. We really weren’t given much of a chance to sit back and let the shock grip our imagination.

Second, has not the post-malfunction hullabaloo had its desired effect? The NFL and the networks have been very judicious in their selection of half-time stars ever since.

It’s time to give this a rest. Justices of the Supreme Court, after you read the FCC’s plea for one more day in court, please: Just say no.