Three Native Americans have filed a petition with the FCC to protest the license renewal of Los Angeles FOX owned station KTTV over the use of the word Redskins.
KTTV broadcasts the NFL’s National Football Conference. The Washington Redskins play in the NFC Eastern Division.
Last month, George Washington University professor John Banzhaf said he would target local TV stations in areas with large populations of Native Americans to stop the use of the word. He also said he would go after Los Angeles stations since their licenses are up for renewal at the end of the year. KTTV’s license is up for renewal December 1.
UPDATE: A spokesperson for FOX Television Stations declined to comment on the matter.
All the petitioners argue that the respective stations have not met their legal obligation to operate in the public interest, because repeatedly and unnecessarily using a highly derogatory word – which has been found in several legal proceedings, as well as in dictionaries, to be a racial slur – when children are in the audience is clearly contrary to the public interest.
“No station which repeatedly and unnecessarily used the word “N*ggers” on the air would ever have its license renewed, and Native American leaders all say that the R-word is as much a racial slur to them as the N-word is to African Americans,” says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who filed the original petition against the renewal the license of WWXX-FM.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said that his agency would give serious consideration to Banzhaf’s legal petition – a move likely, according to several broadcasting law experts, to hold up the renewal process with hearings and other proceedings, and affect the station’s credit rating and cause other problems.
Banzhaf is also fighting the license renewal of radio station WWXX, which is owned by Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington NFL Team.
KTTV updated a story last week saying FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler was considering the petition to ban the name from the public airwaves.
Broadcasters who then use the word would be subject to a fine and/or possible suspension.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said Tuesday that the commission “will be dealing with that issue on the merits, and we’ll be responding accordingly.”
A law professor has challenged the use of the name on broadcast television, saying it violates FCC rules against indecent content. Native American and other groups have demanded the name be changed, calling it a racial slur.
Wheeler did not offer a timetable for a ruling on the matter. He has previously said he finds the name “offensive and derogatory,” but that he hoped Redskins owner Dan Snyder would change it without any formal action.
Snyder has vowed never to change the name.