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FCC chief says Washington Redskins name is 'offensive and derogatory'

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Wheeler wants to see a change but prefers solution from the public

Bryan Allison / Flickr

Federal Communications Commission chair Tom Wheeler has come out against the name of the Washington Redskins, saying that he'd like to see it change but that he's hoping the change will be the result of public pressure. "I don't use the term personally and I think it is offensive and derogatory," Wheeler tells Broadcasting & Cable. As head of the FCC, Wheeler could use broadcast regulations to make use of the team name difficult, though doing so would likely initiate a battle and controversy of its own. There's also a question of how big the government's role is here, and Wheeler seemingly would like to stay back.

"It would be great if the Washington football team would recognize those kinds of changes itself."

"I think it would be great if the Washington football team would recognize those kinds of changes itself," Wheeler tells B&C. "I hope that this is something that if enough people express themselves, [Redskins owner] Dan Snyder can see which way things are going."

As B&C points out, former FCC officials have been among those calling for the commission to push for a change. They haven't asked for it to bring out regulatory powers, though, so much as they're asking for it to push for more self-regulation by broadcasters on the use of offensive language. Public support for a change has been growing to new heights over the past year, but Snyder has refused to make a change thus far and it doesn't seem like he'll be easily swayed. Earlier this year, half of the US senate even sent the NFL's commissioner a letter calling for a new name. The NFL responded that "the intent of the team's name has always been to present a strong, positive, and respectful image."