Do the crime, pay the fine.
That more or less sums up what the Federal Communications Commission told CBS Wednesday in denying the network's second appeal to have the $550,000 fine it incurred following Janet Jackson's 2004 wardrobe malfunction thrown out.
Rejecting CBS' claim that the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show incident featuring Jackson and Justin Timberlake was neither indecent nor planned (however ridiculous it may have been), the FCC honchos ruled that the chesty violation was carried out deliberately.
"The commission affirms its finding that CBS' violation was willful and declines to reduce the forfeiture imposed upon CBS," the agency said in a statement.
The FCC slapped CBS with the $550,000 penalty in September 2004 and the network's first appeal was denied in February.
CBS, the major network that has been hit particularly hard of late as government watchdogs crack down on broadcast indecency, said in a statement that the network has publicly apologized numerous times for the split-second infraction and has since taken steps to ensure it doesn't happen again. (In fact, the Jackson incident has given rise to a new industry-wide era of seven-second delays and $325,000 fines per violation.)
"We continue to disagree with the FCC's finding that the broadcast was legally indecent," CBS said. "We will continue to pursue all remedies necessary to affirm our legal rights, and so today's decision by the FCC is just another step in that process."
As it works on affirming its legal rights, the network and more than 100 of its affiliates are still waiting to hear whether a $3.6 million fine they were handed in March for a racy 2004 episode of Without a Trace will stand. Actually, the amount was magnanimously lowered to $3.3 million a couple weeks later after the FCC learned that eight stations aired the episode after 10 p.m.
Last month CBS, Fox and ABC--altogether representing more than 800 stations--filed appeals in various federal courts to overturn oodles of indecency rulings handed down alongside the multimillion-dollar CBS whammy. According to the FCC, violations ranged from Nicole Richie's F-bomb on Fox's 2003 Billboard Music Awards telecast to a Survivor finalist saying the S-word on CBS' The Early Show.
NBC, which did not get any wrist slaps in March but is still waiting to hear whether it will have to pay up for Bono's utterance of the F-word at the 2003 Golden Globes, joined its fellow networks in issuing a declaration of outrage last month, calling the FCC's rulings "unconstitutional, contrary to the relevant statutes, arbitrary and capricious and contrary to the law."