Three Former FCC Commissioners: Washington Redskins Name 'Indecent,' Should Subject Broadcasters To Fines
April 5, 2013 at 3:52 PM (PT)
Former FCC Chairman REED HUNDT and former Commissioners JONATHAN ADELSTEIN and NICHOLAS JOHNSON sent a letter to WASHINGTON REDSKINS and RED ZEBRA BROADCASTING owner DANIEL SNYDER claiming that the REDSKINS name may be indecent and could subject broadcasters for fines for simply saying the name on the air.
POLITICO reports that the three former FCC commissioners wrote, “It is impermissible under law that the FCC would condone, or that broadcasters would use, obscene pornographic language on live television. This medium uses government-owned airwaves in exchange for an understanding that it will promote the public interest. Similarly, it is inappropriate for broadcasters to use racial epithets as part of normal, everyday reporting.” In addition, HUNDT told POLITICO's BROOKS BOLIEK that the FCC should "hold a hearing. It would be on ESPN. Shame the name."
The FCC has never considered racial slurs as subject to indecency, which is defined as material that "in context, depicts or describes sexual or excretory activities or organs in a patently offensive manner as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium." The regulation proposed by the three former commissioners would constitute a major expansion of the Commission's ability to regulate content.
The REDSKINS name has come under increasing criticism as racist and a relic of another era, but the team and the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE have thus far resisted entertaining the possibility of changing the name. Several colleges and high schools have eliminated Native American-related sports team nicknames, although baseball's CLEVELAND INDIANS have resisted changing their name or "Chief Wahoo" logo. In WASHINGTON, the NBA's BULLETS became the WIZARDS due to concern over the violent connotations of the original, long-standing name.