Viacom Faces $550K Jackson Fine


Viacom Inc. faces a $550,000 fine as a result of Janet Jackson's breast-flash during the Super Bowl halftime show, a source following the Federal Communications Commission's investigation of indecency said Wednesday.

FCC commissioners are reviewing the recommended penalty, which was suggested by the agency's Enforcement Bureau staff.

The commission is expected to formally propose the penalty in the next few weeks. Viacom will have a chance to challenge the decision at the commission before the fine is final.

Each of Viacom's CBS TV stations would be liable for the maximum $27,500 per violation permitted under FCC rules.

During the National Football League's Super Bowl halftime show in February, Jackson's costume was ripped away by fellow singer Justin Timberlake, briefly exposing her breast, although the nipple was covered.

The incident enraged anti-smut activists, who bombarded the FCC with complaints. The staff suggested that commissioners not fine the 227 CBS affiliates not owned by Viacom that also aired the show.

Although the O&Os had no prior knowledge of Jackson's stunt, they would be penalized in part because sister Viacom company MTV produced the half time show.

Viacom officials had no comment. The incident fueled a tremendous backlash in Congress and pushed both houses to pass legislation that would dramatically raise indecency fines.