George Washington University Law Professor John Banzhaf told Radio Ink last night that he's very encouraged that three of the five FCC commissioners have now publicly expressed concerns about the continued use of the word "Redskins" on the public's airwaves, especially by Chairman Wheeler's comment that the agency recognizes that it will have to deal with the issue, which Banzhaf thinks will probably lead to a hearing. "The commissioners are well aware of the FCC's reputation for "regulation through a raised eyebrow," publicly voicing their concerns so that broadcasters can and usually will address these issues on their own rather than waiting for formal agency action -- so the willingness for a majority to speak out so strongly and frankly on this controversial issue suggests two things...
(1) They are probably hoping that broadcasters, or the NFL team itself, will take appropriate steps so as to make formal action by the agency itself unnecessary; (2) They take my current legal petition -- as well as those about to be filed regarding California -- quite seriously, will probably set them down for investigation and hearing, and may well be prepared to take appropriate agency action if it proves necessary.
In terms of timing, Banzhaf admits the agency tends to move slowly on controversial issues. "I think it will delay renewal of the licenses of any stations as to which "Redskins" petitions-in-opposition have or will be filed, explore whether there is some compromise everyone can agree to voluntarily, and use the threat of FCC hearings and/or investigations to move the industry towards seriously addressing the issue.
Banzhaf believes if broadcasters start to reject the name, that would put more pressure on Daniel Snyder. "Any possibility that broadcasters will stop using the word would put the strongest possible pressure on team owner Dan Snyder to finally change its name, and/or on the NFL and other team owners to force him to do so. It's hard to see how a team can operate if its name isn't going to be used on the air.
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