Court won't hear 'wardrobe malfunction' appeal

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Supreme Court decided last Friday not to consider reinstating the government's $550,000 fine on CBS for Janet Jackson's infamous breast-baring "wardrobe malfunction" at the 2004 football Super Bowl.

The high court refused to hear an appeal from the Federal Communications Commission over the penalty.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals twice had thrown out the fine. The second time came after the Supreme Court upheld the FCC's policy threatening fines against even one-time uses of curse words on live television.

The appeals court said FCC's policy of excusing fleeting instances of indecent words and images appeared to change without notice in March 2004, a month after Jackson's halftime act.

The judges said that made the agency's action against CBS "arbitrary and capricious."

But now, the FCC clearly has abandoned its exception for fleeting expletives, Chief Justice John Roberts said.

"It is now clear that the brevity of an indecent broadcast -- be it word or image -- cannot immunize it from FCC censure," he said. "Any future 'wardrobe malfunctions' will not be protected on the ground relied on by the court below."

In addition, Roberts said that calling it a "wardrobe malfunction" when Justin Timberlake ripped away part of Jackson's bustier "strained the credulity of the public."

CBS said it was grateful for the court's decision.

"At every major turn of this process, the lower courts have sided with us," the network said in a statement.

"And now that the Supreme Court has brought this matter to a close, we look forward to the FCC heeding the call for the very balanced enforcement which was the hallmark of the commission for many, many years."

Justices won't stop Detroit man's release from prison

DETROIT (AP) -- The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to intervene in the release of a Detroit convicted killer who was granted bond after a judge said he deserved a new trial.

The court apparently gave it some close consideration last Friday. A request to issue a stay in the case was defeated, 5-4, with conservative Justice Antonin Scalia joining four liberal justices.

The Michigan attorney general's office wants Dwayne Ballinger Jr. to remain in prison while it appeals a decision that set aside two murder convictions and life sentence.

State attorneys claim Ballinger was looking for witnesses who testified against him at his 2007 trial as soon as he returned home last week. Ballinger denies it. Federal Judge Arthur Tarnow declined to revoke his bond but said he must wear an electronic monitor.

Media companies' appeal turned away by court

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court has turned down media companies' plea to lift a prohibition on owning both a newspaper and a television station in the same market.

The justices last Friday denied the companies' appeal without comment. The media outlets say the restrictions no longer make sense in the Internet era.

The appeal also sought to get rid of other ownership limits including how many local television stations one company can control.

The companies say the rules make it harder for broadcasters and newspapers to do business and respond to competitors on the Internet, satellite and cable -- entities which don't face the same restrictions.

Critics of media consolidation have warned of the dangers of too many media outlets falling under the ownership of a handful of large corporations.

Published: Tue, Jul 3, 2012