FCC's Pai Takes On First Amendment, Redskins Issues In Talk At Media Institute
November 19, 2014 at 12:01 PM (PT)
Appearing at the Friends and Benefactors Awards Banquet of the MEDIA INSTITUTE in WASHINGTON TUESDAY (11/18), FCC Commissioner AJIT PAI warned against an outright ban of the name WASHINGTON REDSKINS from the nation's airwaves.
Saying that the recent flap over the FCC's proposed newsroom study "hasn’t been the only threat to the First Amendment to pop up at the FCC over the last 12 months," PAI, who declined to voice an opinion on whether the NFL franchise should change its name, said he found it "disturbing that there’s an eager constituency urging the federal government to ban the team’s name from our nation’s airwaves. Just think about what that could mean. A television station could be fined for accurately reporting that the score of last SUNDAY’s game was the TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 27, WASHINGTON REDSKINS 7. A radio station’s license could be revoked for using the team’s name during a news report on the controversy about the team’s name."
"If the FCC took these steps," PAI continued, "we would be squelching public debate about
an issue of public concern. We would be standing in the way of media outlets reporting the news. And we would be prohibiting speech simply because we disagree with the viewpoint that is being expressed. No federal agency should cross that line. And public officials should not sound an uncertain trumpet when oft-offended opportunists urge us to undermine the First Amendment."
The REDSKINS name has been challenged as "indecent" at the FCC by GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY professor JOHN BANZHAF III and a group of Native American activists who have challenged the licenses of one of REDSKINS owner DANIEL SNYDER's radio stations and two LOS ANGELES television stations over the use of the name.
PAI's speech cited the UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA at BERKELEY's attempt to disinvite BILL MAHER from giving a commencement speech after comments he made on radical Islam and other campus speech disinvitations as examples of how the intolerance of others' speech, hand-in-hand with the polarized discourse on politics via social media, has increased in recent years.
PAI said, "I intend to do whatever I can during the remainder of my time at the FCC to protect freedom of speech and the freedom of the press. The past few months have shown that the American people treasure and will defend the First Amendment. That means we can win these battles so long as government overreach is exposed to the light of day."