Should the FCC Force the Redskins to Change Team Name?

Former chairman Reed Hundt says term is obscene

Should the Federal Communications Commission force the Washington Redskins to change their name? Former FCC chairman Reed Hundt says "yes."

Putting new pressure on owner Dan Snyder, Hundt laid out his case Friday in an op-ed in The Washington Post that is sure to stir up a debate that's been going on for years.

The op-ed coincided with a letter that Hundt and 11 others, including former FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein and public interest advocates, sent to Snyder urging him "to change the archaic and racially stereotyped name of the Washington XXXskins (used instead of spelling out Redskins) football team." 

Hundts suggests that because the name of the NFL team is archaic and racially stereotyped, it forces broadcasters to use racially derogatory words on the air.

"The FCC clearly has the authority to investigate whether broadcasters' use of derogatory names to describe sports teams and players comports with the public interest," wrote Hundt. In fact, broadcasters should take matters into their own hands. "If broadcasters follow their own tradition, they will insist that Snyder no longer put them in the intolerable position of using a derogatory term to describe his team," Hundt wrote.

Snyder and the team have so far resisted the mounting pressure to change the name, posting a letter in February on the team website defending the designation. 

The team had "no comment" for WTOP, the local Washington radio station. 

The FCC's authority to enter into the debate over the name of the football team in the nation's capital is unclear, and definitions for what constitutes indecency are in limbo. Expanding the FCC's definitions of indecency and profanity are what caused the agency to end up at the Supreme Court last year, leading to its public notice days ago to consider how it should define indecency.


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