Will the Word ‘Redskins’ Be Banned from Broadcast TV? FCC Weighs Action

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said that the agency is considering a petition to issue sanctions against broadcast stations that use the term “Redskins” when referring to Washington D.C.’s professional football team.

In comments to reporters, Wheeler said that the FCC “will be looking at that petition, we will be dealing with that issue on the merits and we’ll be responding accordingly.” But he personally believes that the term is “offensive and derogatory,” according to an interview he gave earlier this month to Broadcasting & Cable.

The idea of punishing stations for using the word came about in a petition filed by George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf earlier this month. He is challenging the license of team owner Dan Snyder’s WWXX-FM radio station, and contends that the word is an “offensive demeaning racial swear word.” The FCC has authority to sanction stations for indecent or obscene content. A decision against the station would have ramifications across broadcast sports coverage.

Last year, former FCC chairman Reed Hundt, along with other communications executives, sent a letter to Snyder urging him to change the team’s name. They argued that, while broadcasters wouldn’t think of using other racial epithets, they routinely use the name of the Washington team.


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  1. Absolutely absurd campaign. And the FCC shouldn’t give it a moment’s consideration. The Redskins team name has been around for some 80 years. All of a sudden it is the cause du jour among self-styled “anti-racist” activists.

  2. k kennedy says:

    Lets make Sioux Falls change its name as it implies Sioux Indians fall down.
    Lets make Notre Dame stop using “Fighting” Irish as it makes Irish to be brawlers.
    Lets ban any non-Native American from taking a Native name as it insults pure-blood Native Americans.
    When does the PC BS stop !

  3. J.E. Vizzusi says:

    If that happens, then its over. Name change is imminent. Just call them The Skins. Somebody needs to take Dan Snyder to a Reservation in South Dakota to find the true spirit of the Native Americans and a few tokes off of a peace pipe just may mellow this corporate power hungry hoarder out! Remember when it was The Stanford Indians?

  4. CNU says:

    Here’s the thing, to my mind in this day and age the term redskins, is thought of as the name of an NFL team and not a as a racial epithet. The word has lost much of it’s negative connotation and the team is the reason for that, but the critics are so set on their goal they can’t see that.

  5. Tim Meisburger says:

    Fighting Irish is a slur, as it plays into the stereotype that Irish people are violent thugs looking for a fight.

    Redskins is not a racial slur, except to those like you who think it is. To me it evokes a proud warrior tradition. Seems to me, those who seek to ban it are illiberal and intolerant, and possibly racist, as they seek to erase all traces of native Americans from popular consciousness.

    Seems to me what the FCC is doing is unconstitutional, a violation of freedom of speech. But no one should worry about that, as clearly government knows best, and has your best interests at heart.

  6. B G says:

    Ban Notre Dame from using Fighting Irish. No more Jeep Cherokees. Better yet, ban all political correctness. No one has a right ” not to be offended”. If you don’t like to hear or watch the Redskins, don’t.

  7. Fight racism with speech tyranny…. way to go FCC.

  8. “Redskin” or “Redskins” were mentioned on U.S.over-the-air TV 39,000 times in September. This includes every local and national newscast aired in all 210+ DMAs. It will be interesting to watch if the threat of regulating this team’s name has any impact on volume.

    Dave Armon, President
    Critical Mention

  9. It is only racist if you choose to view it that way. So who is the racist? The one who uses the word only in the context of referring to a football team, or the person who decides to be offended by the name. I do not view using that name as racist in the least, and I will NOT stop using that name. Ever. I WILL encourage my children to dress up as cowboys and Indians during Halloween. I will teach my children that Racism is very very wrong. But I will also teach my children to THINK, and if you THINK about this issue at all with any level of critical thinking then you know that the people pushing this agenda are the true racists.

  10. Today Redskins, tomorrow dogface batboy, sadly where will the pc police take this nation? GO REDSKINS AGAINST THE GIANTS. Someday Giants will offend a mindless light weight. Recall the childhood saying? Sticks and stones may break my bones, BUT WORDS WILL NEVER HURT ME! TOUGHEN UP AMERICA!

  11. M. F. Sibley says:

    Sadly, some of the comments being presented prove the point that racism is alive and well. This goes way beyond the name of Washington’s football team.

  12. FredY. says:

    One more thing. If the FCC really cared about racial inequality, it would address the great TV-Radio license give-aways of the past years. By allowing huge Companies to own 40, 100 properties, and more than one tv and two radio stations in each market, it has eliminated the possibility of minority ownership all over the country. Under the pre-1996 (let’s make monopolies) rules, minority ownership was possible because there were lots of licenses available Today, no one can offer the money these mega-corps can AND far fewer voices are heard because far fewer broadcast jobs are available for minorities or anyone else. But the FCC is fighting racism and inequality by wanting to fine use of the name Redskins.
    We are so screwed.

  13. FredY. says:

    Amazing how quickly Americans are willing to toss out the Constitution and Free Speech. Political correctness will destroy America faster than the taliban. BTW–the Washington Redskins are a privately owned company. If you believe in the fundamentals of what the United States is all about, you accept their right to choose the team name. Those who believe it is racist have the right to boycott the team, stay away, whatever. But it is the owners of the Redskins who have the right to keep or change the name. I haven’t seen any of those sportscasters who highhandedly say they won’t use the name take any positions on the real racial issues this country faces. Why ? Because this is nothing more than theatre.
    There are far greater race and discrimination issues facing this country. The name of a football team Please !!

  14. Heather Hoenig says:

    I think it’s ridicules, the Redskins have had that name for years. Why change now?

  15. Gregory St. James Mundy says:

    It is about time that the FCC spoke up against racism on the air, the r-word is just as racist as the n-word

    RACISM Is Racism…No Matter What Color!
    (The Washington Football Team)
    by Gregory St.James Mundy

    There was once a time in our country when the “N-WORD” was used openly and no one,
    at least most white people, felt that it was inappropriate. This was because the status
    of black people in this country was seen as second-class. Not being allowed to live where
    they want to, eat where they wanted to, or even drink from the same water fountain.

    Thank God, that black people do not face that kind of racism today. Yet, for Native
    Americans, racism has not changed. Today, even in a country where most may feel that racism
    is something that we have conquered, or at least controlled to a degree, still Native
    Americans are still confronted with racism. Practically every day in the media. Where the
    racist and derogatory offensive and insulting slang word “REDSKIN” is used openly across
    our airwaves.

    Many of us may jokingly say that sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will
    never hurt me. Yet, we all know that words can hurt, sometimes more than stones. This is
    why we as Americans put a stop to black people being called the “N_WORD” and other stupid
    racist slang. We no longer allow the “N_WORD” to be used in the media broadcasting racism
    across our country.

    I say unto you, no one man is the problem. The problem is us, we who allow this
    outright racism in our society, while we conveniently look the other way, as we used to do
    in the past with the racist “N_WORD”.

    When black people were not allowed to sit at Woolworth lunch counter. They were
    spitted upon and called this racist “N_WORD” that only some may consider it honorable and
    that they should be proud to be called it. When black people were beaten and lynched in
    this country to prevent them from getting an education, or the right to vote, we looked
    away too long before we finally stood up and did something about it.

    We as Americans must put an end to all blatant racism in this country. Today, not
    tomorrow, we must stand up and be the voice of the Native Americans, the very first Americans
    of our country, this racism must not be ignored. We as Americans can no longer ignore or
    act like that they are not offended when we have all seen them speak out against this
    racist name.

    Did Martin Luther King teach us anything, those of us who lived through civil rights
    in the country, the violence and racist killing, did we not learn anything from all of that.
    If we did learn anything, we should had learn that when one American is discriminated against
    we all are discriminated against. For we are America, a country where all is for one and
    one is for all. We must stop this racism against Native Americans just like
    we fought and marched to stop racism against black people. We are all one and the same, no
    matter white, black, Jew, Gentile,male or female, we are America.

    We are America and as Americans we cannot sit idly by while this type of racism is
    spread through the media across our country. Just like we put an end to the “N_WORD” being
    broadcast throughout our country through the media. It is time for us to put an end the
    the racist “REDSKIN” word being broadcast across America.

    You may feel that you can’t change the world, but each of us can change a small part
    of it and together, yes we can change the world. Make a difference write the President and
    Congress. Write your local television stations, newspapers and radio stations and those
    companies that sponsor this team and tell them to STOP SPREADING RACISM IN YOUR COUNTRY.


    • Thomas Campbell says:

      yes moron… just the other day I went by an ATL high school and their mascot was the niggers. Oh wait…. That doesn’t happen but if I go to the Navajo nation their are high schools with the mascots of the redskins! God you can’t be THIS stupid. Almost no one considers it a racial slur except for the ignorant.

    • Jeff says:

      Go hang out with them in their casinos where they make their own laws and pay no money to the federal government for said land and casinos. Long live the Washington Redskins and the high school football teams with the name Redskins that no one seems to care about. Move on!

      • Jeff says:

        WOW I guess the reservation gets WiFi. Enjoy your time there Sitting Idiot!

      • reckless rob says:

        Did you forget that those casinos, which are frequently patronized by non-Native Americans, is located in land that pioneers stole and robbed them of their heritage. Screw your taxes, you imperialist moron.

  16. M. F. Sibley says:

    I haven’t used the name of the Washington Football team for as long as I have lived here in the Washington D.C area and that has been since 1974. The reason? It’s highly offensive. I would no more use that name than I would substitute it with say, the offensive names used for blacks, hispanics, Jews, the Irish, or Polish people with the word “Washington” in front of it. Why? They’re all highly offensive and disgusting and they have nothing to do with “pride in your heritage”.

    Dan Snyder’s attitude is belligerent and disgusting and he continues to hide behind “surverys” that claim to show that vast numbers of “fans” just “love” the name. Gee, when his money is paying for those “surverys” I guess they would be in his favor. It’s rather like the fox saying the hens just love to see him raid the hen house. I’d love to see all these fans tell Native Americans to their faces that they should just embrace this racist term to their faces and see the responses they get in return. I think they’d get a wake-up call and a dose of reality.

  17. Joyce Conner says:

    Larry is dumb. Any how they should ban Redskin from TV. I want to see how that plays out in a federal court. NFL vs FCC and whatever TV station that plays their game vs FCC. I now want the Redskins to make it the Super Bowl.

  18. Jeff says:

    Washington Redskins have been around since 1937, and four years before that they were the Boston Redskins. The FCC, the Congressmen, and the rest of the uneducated idiots wanting to have something done about this name can put their pointed hats on and go sit in the corner! If something was going to be done it would have already been done. The so called Native Americans that have issue with this just need to head back to their casinos and keep collecting that money that the government turns their heads and looks the other way on.

    • M. F. Sibley says:

      The “n” word was used for hundreds of years by a great many “uneducated idiots” and educated idiots as well. We’ve managed to get rid of that racist term when people thought it would never happen and good riddance!

      You’re still looking on Native Americans with a racist attitude when you show your apparent jealousy of their casinos and the money that is generated from them.

      We’ve screwed them over since the first day Columbus stepped foot in the New World with wars, land grabs and broken promises.

      Dan Snyder is a billionaire. He could care less about Native Americans. His bottom line is the brand name and the almighty dollar.

      • Jeff says:

        That is FUNNY!!! You actually think that we got rid of the “n” word…ROFLMAO!!!! Have you heard a rap son lately, have you watched any episode of The Wire, have you watched any stand up on HBO or been to a comedy show, heck have you walked down the street, better yet did you see the Bears vs. 49ers game a couple weeks ago, Colin Kapernick used that word, got flagged and fined, that word is not gone, not by a long shot!!!

        BREAKING NEWS: A blond haired lawyer in Chicago by the name of Ms. Locks has filed a lawsuit for her clients Papa, Mama, and Baby Bear against the Chicago Bears to make them change their name because it offends them and misrepresents who they are by calling them “Monsters of the Midway” in the suit Ms. Locks says her clients are not “Monsters” and they do not even reside in the Midwest.

      • Thomas Campbell says:

        Again idiot… I don’t why things are so hard for you to understand. Dan Snyder would actually MAKE WAY MORE MONEY if he changed the name. You’d have about 80% of fans buying new jerseys and t-shirts. He wants to keep the teams history. Almost no one uses the word redskin except for when talking about the football team and It hasn’t be a RACIAL SLUR in over a 100 years if it ever was one. FYI NATIVE is a racial slur or can be but yet I see you using that word. The Native Americans were a conquered nation who have gotten more rights than most American citizens. They use money to control local laws and keep their casinos as the only casino in the area. Multiple NATIVE AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOLS HAVE THE MASCOT REDSKINS! They obviously DON’T THINK ITS A RACIAL SLUR. Seriously people like you should be put down.

    • Tracy M says:

      Comments like these prove the point of those advocating for a name change that there’s a lot of racism attached to the name. Time to lose it and the 19th century attitudes that go with it.

  19. S. Hill says:

    Go Redskins! I think this has gone much too far. I am a Redskin and proud of it. You can only consider it a slur if you don’t have any pride in your heritage. Grow up.

  20. Larry Deutchman says:

    I understand the issues surrounding the name of the team. But a ban on the word seems a bit much. If they ban it from sports coverage, does that mean they also will have to cut it from broadcast copies of existing movies and TV shows such as westerns in which the word has been used for over 80 years when it was perfectly acceptable to hear the word all that time?

    • Larry, would you mind making a quick list of movies and/or TV shows that have been edited in the past to justify your ridiculous question? Because it’s ridiculous.

      • Jeff says:

        Watch the movie Draft Day 32 teams on the clock to make a pick. Where were the Redskins at? This movie was just out a few months ago, Larry is right, it is starting. #BOOM

      • Larry Deutchman says:

        The question isn’t ridiculous. It’s the concept of the FCC banning the word redskin from broadcasting that’s ridiculous and I was trying to demonstrate that. The question was rhetorical on my part. I believe we’re on the same side here.

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