FCC considers banning use of term 'Redskins'

 

The Federal Communications Commission is mulling whether TV and radio stations should be banned from repeatedly saying the name of the Washington Redskins.

Earlier this month, the FCC received a petition to deny renewing the license of Washington sports radio station WWXX-FM because it “deliberately, repeatedly and unnecessarily broadcasts the word ‘R*dskins’ during most of its broadcasting day, and especially in prime time.” 

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The word, which many consider to be an offensive slur against Native Americans, is no different from other racist, homophobic or sexist names, legal activist John F. Banzhaf III argued in his complaint. 

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told reporters on Tuesday that the commission is examining the complaint.

“We will be dealing with that issue on the merits, and we’ll be responding accordingly,” he said.

If the FCC decides to pull the radio station’s license, it would seem to effectively ban stations from repeatedly using the name of the Washington football team.

Wheeler himself is a critic of the team's name. He recently called the name “offensive and derogatory,” and said that he did not use the term personally. 

During Tuesday’s press conference, he repeatedly sidestepped naming the team, instead referring to the organization as “the Washington football team.”

Redskins owner Dan Snyder has repeatedly said he will not change the name of the team, which he has characterized as a term of honor.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the team’s trademark on its famous logo and name, calling them disparaging to Native Americans. The team has since appealed that decision, however, leaving the matter in a legal limbo.

The FCC petition opens up a new possible avenue for critics of the name to force regulators to weigh in.