WASHINGTON -- CBS was fined a record $550,000 by federal regulators Wednesday for Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction," which exposed the singer's
breast during the Super Bowl halftime show.
The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to slap each of the 20 CBS-owned television stations with the maximum indecency penalty of
$27,500. The total penalty of $550,000 is the largest fine levied against a television broadcaster. Most of the FCC's bigger fines have been against
The agency's five commissioners decided not to fine CBS' more than 200 affiliate stations, which also aired the show but are not owned by the
network's parent company, Viacom.
MTV, a Viacom subsidiary, produced the Feb. 1 halftime show, which featured Jackson and singer Justin Timberlake performing a duet. At the end,
Timberlake ripped off a piece of Jackson's black leather top, exposing her right breast to a TV audience of about 90 million.
Timberlake blamed a "wardrobe malfunction," and CBS was quick to apologize to viewers. The breast-baring song generated a record number of complaints
to the FCC -- more than 500,000.
"While we regret that the incident occurred and have apologized to our viewers, we continue to believe that nothing in the Super Bowl broadcast
violated indecency laws," CBS said in a statement. "Furthermore, our investigation proved that no one in our company had any advance knowledge about
The FCC started a crackdown soon after the Super Bowl, resulting in several high-profile fines. Television networks also began implementing broadcast
delays so censors could scrub anything deemed too racy. CBS, for example, aired the Grammy awards ceremony a week after the Super Bowl with a
five-minute delay. More recently, the NFL began its season with a live pregame show on ABC that was aired with a 10-second delay.