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Jackson Court Challenge Gets Going

CBS' court challenge to the Janet Jackson Super Bowl indecency fine gets under way today with CBS' expected late today to file its brief to the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

The opening briefs had initially been due Sept. 27, but the court agreed to push back the schedule so that it would mirror that of a broadcast network challenge to the FCC's four profanity rulings from last March, which the FCC has since modified. Opening briefs are due to the Second Circuit court in New York either Nov. 21 and 22, there is some confusion over which is the actual deadline.

Initially they were expected to both be Nov. 20, but the Second Circuit had to slightly adjust its calendar, according to a source.

Pushing back the start of the Jackson challenge was the other direction from the one the FCC had pushed for.

In August, the commission wanted the case expedited, with briefs beginning in early September so that oral argument could begin by late fall. Now, those arguments won't likely come until sometime early next year, though there is some suggestion the profanity oral argument could be heard in December.

The FCC will get its chance to make its case to the court on Jackson by Dec. 4; reply briefs are due Dec. 11.

The CBS brief will echo the network's long-standing argument, now more than two years old, that the broadcast was not indecent.

Back in July, in order to take the case to federal court CBS paid the $555,000 fine and filed the appeal.

the FCC's fine of CBS-owned stations for Janet Jackson's 2004 Super Bowl Reveal. The affiliates were not fined, even though they also carried the fraction of a second's worth of exposed breast.

The FCC in May denied CBS' challenge to the commission's $550,000 fine, rejecting CBS' assertion that the broadcast was not indecent. CBS' response, essentially, had been: "See you in court."

The FCC's response was 'Bring it on,'countering that "CBS’ continued insistence that the halftime show was not indecent demonstrates that it is out of touch with the American people."

CBS has long said that the decision shouldn't stand. CBS President Leslie Moonves back in 2004 told TV critics that the fine was "patently ridiculous" and that the company was "not going to stand for it."