Banzhaf Says He Will Challenge L.A. Station(s) Over 'Redskins'

Legal activist John Banzhaf confirms that he will file at least one challenge to a TV station license in Los Angeles over the on-air use of the term "Redskins." Why L.A.? It is the largest market with the nearest license renewal date.

California TV station licenses expire Dec. 1. Petitions to deny renewals of those licenses are due Nov. 3.

"I plan to have filed – by and on behalf of Native Americans – at least one and perhaps more petitions opposing the renewal of the broadcast licenses of major L.A. TV station(s)," he told B&C/Multichannel News Tuesday (Oct. 28). He would not identify which station(s) those would be.

Banzhaf has already filed a petition to deny the renewal of Redskins owner Dan Snyder's Washington radio station WWXX, an ESPN Radio affiliate that is the flagship station for Redskins broadcasts. The licensee says that challenge is meritless.

Banzhaf argues that the repeated use of the term "Redskins" to refer to the Washington NFL team is akin to obscenity and hate speech and that its use is not in the public interest. Snyder has pointed to Native Americans who don't oppose the name and signaled he has no plans to change it.

The FCC is currently considering the WWXX petition. Three out of the five commissioners (the Democrats) have expressed their own concerns about the name, including FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, but that is different from a finding that its use invalidates a station license, something Wheeler has made clear.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.