Janet Jackson Decision Won't Come Before Late 2007


A decision on Janet Jackson's Super Bowl half-time reveal won't come until close to the end of the year, at the earliest.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia has set Sept. 11, 2007, as the date for oral argument in the case, CBS confirms. In another key case for the FCC, the same court has scheduled May 23 for argument in a challenge to FCC auction rules.

The FCC had pushed for expedited hearing of the Super Bowl halftime reveal last August, but did not even get to file its briefs until December 2006. The FCC has essentially been awaiting the court's decision to move on any other profanity decisions. "Who knows how many complaints they have yet to act on," said one attorney who has represented broadcasters in indecency cases..

CBS paid the $550,000 fine--a prerequisite to its appeal--apologized, and instituted safeguards to prevent a repeat of the reveal, but says the incident was not indecent.
Oral arguments have been scheduled very slowly in the third circuit recently, said one veteran communications attorney, citing a crowded docket.

Federal court's differ, but oral argument in the Second Circuit challenge to the FCC's profanity decisions was in December 2006 and there is still no decision some five months later.

The Third Circuit has scheduled a May 23 hearing for another case that the FCC is watching closely. That's the Council Tree Communications challenge to the FCC's rules for its August 2006 wireless spectrum auction.

That decision, if it goes against the FCC, could potentially unwind that multi billion dollar auction. It could also have implications for the upcoming auction of analog TV spectrum for wireless uses, which is operating under similar rules and which the commission is required to complete before the end of the year as part of the ongoing transition to digital TV.