A group of former Federal Communications Commission officials sent a letter to the agency urging it to convene about the word Redskins.
A group of 26 activists, leaders, and former commissioners signed the letter asking the FCC commissioner host the forum to decide if broadcasters should voluntarily regulate the on-air use of the team’s name.
“If you can’t look at somebody and use a certain name because it is an insult, then that is the moment of awareness that it is time for the name to be changed,” said Reed Hundt, a former FCC commissioner, to the Washington Post.
The letter calls for broadcasters to voluntarily stop using the offensive name, and told Commissioner Mignon Clyburn the FCC has “unquestioned authority” to host the forum.
The letter cites journalists who have condemned the name, like Peter King of Sports Illustrated and Mike Wise of The Washington Post, and President Obama, who said that if he were Dan Snyder, the owner of the team, he would “think seriously” about changing it.
Hundt, a commissioner during the Clinton Administration, said that the group was specifically calling on broadcasters, not print or digital medium reporters, to participate in the forum because the commission primarily regulates radio and television.
“The Federal Communications Commission gave the airwaves to the stations for free in return for their promise to serve the public interest,” Hundt said in a telephone interview with ICTMN. “Those are the only free over the air mediums that have what the FCC calls a public interest duty or obligation [towards].”
The letter also said that the forum did not need to address legal issues or lead to regulatory intervention.
But, the current issue is not if the commissioner will hold the forum, it’s when will Clyburn get a chance to read the letter to make a decision about the request.
Hundt said that Clyburn has not responded to their request–which was sent on October 10th–because of the shutdown. “I don’t blame her. There is nobody on the staff to open the mail because of the shutdown,” Reed said.
In fact, the website FCC.gov, alerts browsers with this message: “We regret the disruption, but during the Federal Government-wide shutdown, the FCC is limited to performing duties that are immediately necessary for the safety of life or the protection of property.”
“There are millions of problems that come from the shutdown this is just one of them; sooner or later the government will open up and she will open her mail,” Hundt said. “And hope she says ‘I will hold the meeting.’”