In a move that adds to the mounting protests that the ‘Redskins’ team name is disparaging to Native Americans, the Federal Communications Commission announced Tuesday that the agency will consider banning the Washington NFL team name from on-air broadcasts.
Prompted by a petition from legal activist John Banzhaf III that called for the blocking of renewed federal broadcast licenses to stations that continually used the name, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told reporters the agency will look at Banzhaf’s request and address the 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,” he added. “And I think the name that is attributed to the Washington football club is one of those.”
Wheeler’s comments today mirrored his words weeks ago when he told B&C/Multichannel News that “I don’t use the term personally, and I think it is offensive and derogatory.”
Although Wheeler stops short of saying what the FCC would do, Reuters reports that the agency could deem the word indecent, paving the way for a on-air ban across television and radio.
In his petition, Banzhaf said the use of the word is “akin to broadcasting obscenity.” In August, CBS Sports’ lead analyst Phil Simms said he was going to avoid using the word in his coverage. Several publications, including the Washington Post, have dropped usage of the word as well.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled in June that the team name and logo was disparaging and canceled its trademark registration. Bob Raskopf, the team’s trademark lawyer, appealed the decision.