DC delegate pushes FCC to ban 'Redskins' on air

Del. Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonFAA levies 5K in fines against unruly passengers this year Democrats press DOJ to prosecute unruly air passengers Ilhan Omar to Biden: 'Deliver on your promise to cancel student debt' MORE (D-D.C.) is pressuring the Federal Communications Commission to ban broadcasters from using the name “Redskins” on the air.

“The FCC cannot stand by, particularly after there has been an official finding that our hometown team name is derogatory,” Holmes Norton said in a statement to coincide with Native American Heritage Month.  


“As football hits its high point during this month when we also commemorate Native American Heritage Month, we should also move forward with the process necessary to get this racial slur off the air,” she added. 

Holmes Norton has previously called on the FCC to bar the Washington Redskins’s team name. Her renewed calls come as Native American activists filed petitions on Monday asking the FCC to not renew the broadcast license of a Los Angeles-area Fox affiliate, citing their use of “Redskins” on air.

A similar petition was filed against a radio station in Washington, D.C. owned by Redskins owner Dan Snyder in October.

Holmes Norton appears to be the first lawmaker to publicly back calls for the FCC to ban use of the name.

Fifty senators have urged the NFL to force a name change, and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) has introduced legislation that would strip the league of its tax-exempt status. Cantwell’s office, though, declined to say if the senator supports an FCC ban of the name.

Holmes Norton referenced the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which earlier this year ruled to cancel a number of the team's trademarks that included the term "Redskins." It found that the name was disparaging to Native Americans. 

The FCC petitions are being organized by George Washington University professor John Banzhaf, who was the first to file a petition to oppose the license renewal of the D.C. radio station.  

He claims the stations are 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. It is a charge that could extend to most stations across the country that cover professional football. 

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said he personally finds the term Redskins offensive. But he said his owns views do not signal how the commission will rule.