The PJ Tatler

FCC Considering Petition to Ban Use of 'Redskins' on Air, a Move Backed by Some Lawmakers

Washington’s delegate to Congress has asked the Federal Communication Commission to ban the use of the Washington Redskins’ name on the air.

Upon a petition from a George Washington University professor to strip a local radio station of its license because it says the Redskins’ team name, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler told reporters that the commission “will be dealing with that issue on the merits and we’ll be responding accordingly.”

“There are a lot of names and descriptions that were used over time that are inappropriate today,” Wheeler said this week. “And I think the name that is attributed to the Washington football club is one of those.”

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said she hopes the FCC does become the language police in regulating football team names.

“Prohibiting the use of the team name on TV and radio would help significantly to prevent the widespread use of a term that has been adjudicated and found to be a racial slur that offends Native Americans and many others of all backgrounds,” Norton said.  “The FCC petition is a potent tool to add to the others stimulated by Native people.”

Norton plans to introduce a House companion bill to Sen. Maria Cantwell’s (D-Wash.) effort to strip the National Football League of its tax-exempt status if it continues to use the name “Redskins.”

Cantwell’s bill, co-sponsored by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and retiring Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), would just affect 501(c)(6) nonprofit sports leagues who “promote” use of the word Redskins.

“American taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize a $9 billion league that promotes a dictionary-defined racial slur,” said Cantwell, a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, when introducing the legislation in mid-September. “It’s time to end the special tax breaks for the National Football League.”

“It is not right that the National Football League continues to denigrate an entire population,” Reid said. “This is personal for me. As senator from Nevada, I represent 27 tribes and have worked to protect their homelands and their sovereignty. I wish Roger Goodell and the NFL’s leadership team would take a stand.”

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the Redskins’ trademark registration in June.