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Wheeler Confirms FCC Reviewing “Redskins” Name

FHH attorney questions whether agency should get involved

While the FCC is considering whether radio and TV stations should be banned from using the name of Washington’s NFL team on-air, it’s unclear where the effort may go.

The Redskins name issue came up after the commission voted to end its sports blackout rule yesterday. During the meeting, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said Washington’s football team has resisted “calls to change the team’s name for being offensive to Native Americans.”

Chairman Tom Wheeler called the name “inappropriate” and later told reporters the agency is reviewing a complaint filed by activist attorney and George Washington University law professor John F. Banzhaf III. Banzhaf calls the name offensive and an ethnic slur to Native Americans and asked the agency to deny license renewals for Dan Snyder-owned WWXX(FM), Washington. Snyder, owner of the Washington NFL team, has resisted calls to change the name.

Wheeler said the commission would examine “the issue on its merits” and respond “accordingly.”

Banzhaf’s petition refers to the Redskins name as “hate speech,” according to FHH attorney Steve Lovelady. Regarding the legal merit of the petition, Lovelady says there are no FCC laws, regulations or policies — now — that prohibit broadcast of the word “Redskins.”