FCC Dismisses Effort to Sanction Stations That Use ‘Redskins’ as D.C. Team Name

The FCC has rejected a petition to deny the license to a Virginia radio station owned by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder on the grounds that the term “Redskins” is an “offensive demeaning racial swear word.”

Even though FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has said he considered the name “Redskins” “offensive and derogatory,” the agency’s Media Bureau concluded that the broadcast of the word does not violate communications law or FCC policy, including that the word falls within the bounds of what it considers indecent or profane. The Media Bureau renewed the license of Snyder’s WWXX-FM.

The Media Bureau noted that the First Amendment “prohibits the Commission from censoring program material or interfering with broadcasters’ free speech rights.” It pointed out that the “Commission has held that ‘if there is to be free speech, it must be free for speech that we abhor and hate as well as for speech that we find tolerable and congenial.'”

George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf was among those who petitioned the FCC to deny the license renewal. He was joined by Louis Ramon Grimaldi, Jay Winter Nightwolf and Verona Iriate.

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