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FCC Rejects Argument That “Redskins” Is a Dirty Word

FCC indecency regulations don’t apply to offensive words, just ones that involve “sexual or excretory” activity.

miker /

Sorry, people who hate the name of Washington’s NFL team — the Federal Communications Commission isn’t going to fine broadcasters for using the term “Redskins.”

The agency has rejected a September petition by George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf III to deny a Washington-area radio station’s broadcast license renewal because announcers there routinely use the word “Redskins” when talking about the team. The petition argued that the word is akin to an obscenity or hate speech and shouldn’t be used on the air.

“Because the law defines profanity as sexual or excretory in nature, we cannot find the word profane,” the FCC’s media bureau said Thursday in a notice denying the petition.

Banzhaf’s petition represented a novel legal approach to pressure the Washington team’s owner to change the name, but like other previous efforts, it didn’t quite work out.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said previously that he also finds the name “Redskins” offensive and thinks it should be changed. But he said the FCC would follow the law when deciding on whether broadcasters could be fined for using it on air.

Native American groups and supporters have increased pressure this year on Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to change the name, which they say is racist and offensive. Thus far, Snyder has refused.

This article originally appeared on

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