Red Zebra Broadcasting calls the challenges to its license renewal for WWXX(FM), Buckland, Va., “meritless.”
George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf filed a complaint at the FCC, saying the Dan Snyder-owned broadcaster uses the word “Redskins” on-air; opponents of the team name characterize it as hate speech. He’s part of the “Change the Mascot” movement led by the Oneida Indian Nation, located in New York. They’ve urged Snyder to change the team name.
Snyder’s communications attorneys at Wiley Rein call the objections “an attempt to goad the commission into banning the team name of Washington, D.C.’s NFL franchise from the nation’s airwaves.” Read the filing (PDF).
They acknowledge there is a public dispute over the team name, however the commission is not the appropriate arbiter of that dispute, according to Red Zebra’s response to Banzhaf’s complaint. The broadcaster urged the commission to dismiss the complaint and grant the license renewal.
Even if the FCC regulated hate speech, the Redskins team name does not fit that category, according to Red Zebra.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has called the team name “inappropriate,” and has taken heat for the agency reviewing the Banzhaf complaint; however the commission is simply treating that like it does any other petition to review a broadcast license application, according to Wheeler, a point he reiterated last week.