Radio station tells FCC: Don’t ban ‘Redskins’

A broadcasting company told the Federal Communications Commission on Friday that it has no legal grounds to ban radio stations from using the name of the Washington Redskins. 

Critics are using “meritless” arguments to urge the FCC not to reauthorize the license of local Washington sports radio station WWXX-FM, Red Zebra Broadcasting told the agency in a formal filing.

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The request for the FCC to not renew the station’s license is “a crass misuse of the license renewal process,” it added, which would lead to “limitless expansion of the government’s censorial powers,” seemingly in violation of the Constitution.

“While there is, in fact, a public debate over the use of the name ‘Redskins’ in association with the team, the commission cannot appropriately serve as the arbiter of that dispute,” the broadcaster claimed. “The commission’s task is not to pass judgment on the propriety of the name of Washington’s professional football team.”

The company is owned by Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who has repeatedly refused to change the team name despite repeated criticism.

Earlier this year, the FCC received a petition asking it not to renew the broadcast license of the radio station because it “deliberately, repeatedly and unnecessarily” said the name of the Washington football team, which many consider to be a racial slur against Native Americans.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler — who himself is a noted critic of the team’s name — said last month that the agency is “dealing with that issue on the merits” and considering its request.

This week, three Native Americans joined the petition asking the FCC to cut the station’s license.

If the petition is granted and the broadcast station’s license not renewed, the FCC would be effectively putting stations on notice not to repeatedly say the name of the team.