Indian Activists Attack Second L.A. TV License Over “Redskins”

Congresswoman Joins; Petition’s Central Legal Claim Spawns Hard-Hitting Video Ad
WASHINGTON - Nov. 3, 2014 - PRLog -- WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov 3,  2014): A third broadcaster has now had its license challenged by Native American activists over its repeated and unnecessary on-air use of the word “R*dskins,” which they term a “racial slur,” and which others have called the “R-word” - the equivalent for American Indians of the N-word for African American, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

        In additional to the already-announced legal petitions opposing the renewal of the broadcast licenses of WWXX-FM in the DC metro area, and KTTV-TV, the Fox affiliate in the L.A. area, a third nearly identical legal petition has also been filed against the KNBC-TV, the NBC affiliate in the L.A. area.

        A central argument to all of the petitions - that racial slurs constitute “profanity” which should not be used on the air, especially during prime time  - has spawned a hard-hitting video which features members of many major ethic groups using the racial slur which is offensive to their own group.  When the N-word and almost a dozen other racist slurs are used, the word is bleeped out, but the R-word is not.  The ad explains that all racial slurs constitute profanity, yet only one - the R-word - is tolerated when used on the air.

        In another major development, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has publicity called upon the FCC to take action against the widespread use of the word on the public’s airwaves.  “It is quite likely that other members of Congress will join in her request, just as they joined in her request to revoke the trademarks the team currently uses to keep others from selling ‘R*dskins’” merchandise, says Banzhaf.

        Banzhaf explained that stations in the L.A. area were targeted for two reasons.  First, the Los Angeles area contains the largest concentration of urbanized Native Americans.  Second, the licenses for all TV stations in California come up for renewal in December 2014.  The next group of station licenses which could be opposed include, among others, those in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon which come up in February.

        In response to the filing of Banzhaf’s original petition opposing the renewal of one of team owner Dan Snyder’s radio stations, the FCC’s current chairman, Tom Wheeler, has publicly stated that it would be given serious consideration, and two additional members expressed their own concerns about the issue.

        Also, a former chairman of the FCC, two former FCC commissioners, and almost a dozen other broadcasting law experts have concluded that repeated and unnecessary use of the R-word is contrary to federal broadcast law, and would be grounds to revoke or fail to renew the broadcast license of any station which repeatedly and unnecessarily used the word on the air.

Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
2000 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052, USA
(202) 994-7229 // (703) 527-8418 @profbanzhaf

GWU Law School
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Tags:Knbc, KTTV, Redskins, Fcc, License
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