CBS Receives Record Fine for Super Bowl Indecency

27 September 2004

The Federal Communications Commission has levied a record fine on US broadcaster CBS after concluding that the exposure of Janet Jackson's breast during coverage of the Super Bowl was deliberate.

Over 542,000 viewer complaints were received about the incident, which occurred during the half-time festivities.

The $550,000 (€446,752; £305,316) fine, a record for television, applies to twenty CBS stations, which each receive the maximum allowed penalty of $27,500.

The FCC decided not to penalise the 200 non-CBS owned affiliates which also broadcast the program, deeming them exempt from planning and approval of the half-time entertainment.

Commissioner Jonathon Adelstein disapproves of this decision, calling the fine 'paltry' in comparison with ad revenues received by CBS during the broadcast of the game.

CBS does not appear keen to accept the fine lying down. "We are extremely disappointed in the ruling … we are reviewing all of our options to respond to the ruling."

Parent company Viacom has 30 days to contest the ruling or pay the fine.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff