Change the Mascot Wants CBS to Scrub 'Redskins'

Change the Mascot, one of the groups actively and loudly opposing the use of the "Redskins" name for Washington's NFL team, has written to CBS asking the network not to use the team name on-air if it makes it to the Super Bowl.

That would be a long shot (one oddsmaker gave the team a 2.6% chance of making the big game), but the group is hedging its bets.

Washington first has to win their opening round game Sunday (on Fox) against the Green Bay Packers, a game that will also get some eyeballs. But the group did not send letters to Fox.

"We have reached out to Fox in the past," said spokesman Joel Barkin. "As outlined in our letter to CBS, the Super Bowl is a unique national and global event with a special significance in our culture and across the world. Given that this is the first time that the Washington team has even had a chance at the Super Bowl since our Change the Mascot campaign launched, we felt it was important to go on record now with CBS to ensure that our request was heard."

CBS had no comment, but it has made clear before that it uses official team marks and logos and does not dictate to its announcers what they should or should not say. That includes how they refer to the team, as well as whether they do or don't refer to human growth hormone issues or concussion issues that involve NFL teams or players.

Change the Mascot said Thursday that it had sent letters to various executives, saying: "Today, America is working to promote itself as a tolerant, pluralistic society in the face of detractors who seek to portray our country as a haven of bigotry. During one of the biggest worldwide media events of the year, we as a nation should not be providing fodder for America’s foes. Instead, we should be doing everything we can to make sure that—at minimum—we are not deliberately promoting across the globe hateful slurs against indigenous people."

The group points out that CBS Sports announcers Phil Simms, Greg Gumbel and James Brown have all expressed their personal issues with the name.

They are not alone. A number of members of Congress and of the FCC have also weighed in with their distaste for the moniker.

At the start of the football season last September, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia introduced a bill that would prohibit the NFL from receiving an antitrust exemption so long as it allows the Washington team to continue to use the name "Redskins."

The FCC has rejected a petition to deny the renewal of owner Dan Snyder's radio station, WWXX-FM over its use of the name.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has said he personally thinks the name should be changed, but that is different from whether the name constitutes "profanity," "fighting words," or "hate speech," as has been suggested in some petitions challenging TV and radio stations using the name.

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.