What Are The Chances The FCC Sides With Banzhaf?


According to broadcast attorney John Garziglia, Banzhaf may have to wait until 2019 to go after radio stations for using the word “Redskin” on the air. Garziglia reminds us that most radio renewals have been completed by the FCC and the next round does not come up for another five years. There is one station that he still might be able to  go after, and that’s owned by Snyder’s Red Zebra Broadcasting, WWXX-FM in Buckland Virginia. Here’s what Garziglia has to say about Banzhaf’s chances to win against radio using the word.

With Dan Snyder’s Red Zebra Broadcasting, it appears that at least one of his stations, WWXX, 94.3 MHz, Buckland, Virginia, still has not received a grant of its most recent June, 2011 license renewal application.  It is unclear from the FCC’s database why the WWXX license renewal application remains un-granted.  As long as WWXX license renewal application remains pending, however, it is vulnerable to an objection being filed against it.  Should an objection now be filed against it, the FCC would take up whatever allegations are made in such an objection in its consideration of the still-pending WWXX license renewal application.

While it is currently improbable that the FCC would deny a station’s license renewal for the use of the word Redskins, an adverse filing against a license renewal application containing such allegations does have the potential to further delay FCC action on the application.  It is worth observing that delay occurs almost anytime an adverse filing occurs against a broadcast station’s license renewal application.  The FCC often gets objections against license renewal applications regarding a station’s programming or other content –- objections that, under FCC precedent, should have no bearing upon a station’s license renewal application.  Yet, the FCC will often take years to grant a license renewal application that has objections filed against it.

The controversy over the use of the Redskins team name is a discussion of political and social correctness.  What is politically or socially correct one day may be verboten the next.  The sands of political and social correctness are ever shifting.  Someday, the use of the word Redskins, even when referring to a major sports team, may no longer be acceptable.

Because radio stations are subject to the heavy regulatory hand of the FCC, there are many ways for disgruntled individuals and groups to use the FCC’s regulatory processes as pressure.  This potential for regulatory distress is something every radio station licensee lives with every day.  Mr. Banzhof is reportedly fairly adroit at manipulating the FCC’s processes.  It remains to be seen whether the FCC will allow itself to be so used to further Mr. Banzhof’s political and social quest regarding the Redskins team name.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here