Activists challenge Los Angeles TV station for using ‘Redskins’ name

Activists are taking their fight to prevent broadcasters from using the Redskins team name across the country.

Three Native Americans filed a petition on Monday opposing the renewal of Los Angeles Fox affiliate KTTV-TV’s broadcasting license. The petition cites the station’s use of the Washington Redskins name, which they describe as a racial slur.

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The petitions in Los Angeles are being organized by George Washington University professor John Banzhaf, who filed a petition in October to oppose the license renewal of a D.C. station owned by Redskins owner Dan Snyder.

He claims the station is operating against the public interest by repeatedly using the team’s name, which he calls "hate speech" and a "fighting word" that has no constitutional protection. The other petitions have used similar claims. 

Highlighting the sweeping implications of his argument, Banzhaf previously said the petitions could apply to most radio stations across the country that use the team's name “repetitively and unnecessarily.”

He compared the on-air use of the term to other derogatory language. A station that used a racial slur against African-Americans would never "have its license renewed, and Native American leaders all say that the R-word is as much a racial slur to them as the N-word is to African Americans," he said in a statement announcing the petitions.  

Among the Native Americans who filed petitions is Larry Smith, described as a radio host and educator.

The release Monday did not specify why the Los Angeles station was being singled out. But Banzhaf previously told The Hill that the timing of license renewals would factor. While the Washington license does not expire for a few years, the Los Angeles petition is up for renewal in December. 

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said he personally finds the term Redskins offensive but that his view does not indicate how the commission will rule. 

Snyder has said he has no intention of changing the name and that it is meant to portray a positive and respectful image.