Tag Archives: FCC Enforcement Bureau

FCC fines ham $25,000 for operating FM pirate radio station

(Source: Southgate ARC)

FCC fines Amateur Radio licensee $25,000 for operating unlicensed FM station

ARRL reports in an FCC Enforcement Bureau case going back to early 2015, a Paterson, New Jersey, Amateur Radio licensee has been penalized in the amount of $25,000 for allegedly continuing to operate an unlicensed FM radio station

The FCC issued a Forfeiture Order on October 30 to Winston A. Tulloch, KC2ALN, a General class licensee. The fine followed an April 2018 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) issued to Tulloch for alleged “willful and repeated violation” of Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, by operating an unlicensed FM radio station on 90.9 MHz in Paterson. Tulloch did not respond to the NAL, the FCC indicated.

“Commission action in this area is essential because unlicensed radio stations do not broadcast Emergency Alert Service messages and therefore create a public safety hazard for their listener,” the FCC said in the Forfeiture Order. “Moreover, unlicensed radio stations create a danger of interference to licensed communications and undermine the Commission’s authority over broadcast radio operations.”

Read the full ARRL story at
http://www.arrl.org/news/fcc-fines-amateur-radio-licensee-25-000-for-operating-unlicensed-fm-station

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Pirate Radio: FCC Enforcement focuses on small markets

(Source: Tom Taylor Now)

The FCC’s busting more pirates in smaller markets.

True, the Dallas office issues two Notices of Unlicensed Operation for an 87.9 in Houston, run out of New Beginnings Fellowship Church. But agents from Dallas also found a pirate FM at 93.5 up in the smallish Texas Panhandle town of Amarillo. (That one was also operated out of a church, the Iglesia Bautista Renovacion Ministerio Internacional.) The spectrum cops from Dallas also detected a 95.9 in Port Arthur, Texas. And out in California, agents from the L.A. office ventured up to Oxnard to respond to a complaint about a 99.1 operating from a business. (It was a business run by Maria Gonzalez, who gets the NOUO.) So while the traditional pirate radio hotbeds in South Florida, the New York City area and Boston get attention, there seem to be more complaints and more investigations in smaller markets. If the “PIRATE Act” that passed the House ever makes it through the Senate and is signed into law, the FCC would be required to make twice-yearly sweeps of the five most active areas for pirates. But it seems illegal FMs may simply be popping up in less-likely places. The equipment’s cheap and you might not get caught. Though one pirate in Miami got nabbed doing something novel – operating a pirate station out of a parked RV. (Sure keeps the costs down.)

Click here to read at Tom Taylor Now.

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ARRL takes minor exception to wording of FCC Enforcement Advisory regarding uncertified two-way radios

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Eric McFadden, who shares the following ARRL response to the FCC Enforcement Advisory we posted last week. The following was published in the ARRL News:

ARRL has taken a minor exception to the wording of a September 24 FCC Enforcement Advisory pertaining to the importation, marketing and sale of VHF and UHF transceivers and is in discussion with FCC personnel to resolve the matter. The Enforcement Advisory was in response to the importation into the US of certain radio products that are not FCC certified for use in any radio service, but identified as Amateur Radio equipment.

“While much of this equipment is actually usable on Amateur bands, the radios are also capable of operation on non-amateur frequencies allocated to radio services that require the use of equipment that has been FCC-certified,” ARRL said. “Such equipment is being marketed principally to the general public via mass e-marketers and not to Amateur Radio licensees.”

[…]“In several places, the Enforcement Advisory makes the point that ‘anyone importing, advertising or selling such noncompliant devices should stop immediately, and anyone owning such devices should not use them,’” ARRL pointed out. “The Advisory broadly prohibits the ‘use’ of such radios, but our view is that there is no such prohibition relative to licensed Amateur Radio use — entirely within amateur allocations — of a radio that may be capable of operation in non-amateur spectrum, as long as it is not actually used to transmit in non-amateur spectrum.

ARRL has had extensive discussions about this issue with FCC Wireless Bureau and Enforcement Bureau staff, and those discussions are ongoing.[…]

Click here to read the full news article.

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The end of cheap non-compliant VHF/UHF two-way radios?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Zantow (N9EWO), who references this thread on RadioReference.com regarding the following FCC Enforcement Advisory:

The Enforcement Bureau (Bureau) of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has observed that a growing number of conventional retailers and websites advertise and sell low-cost, two-way VHF/UHF radios that do not comply with the FCC’s rules. Such devices are used primarily for short-distance, two-way voice communications and are frequently imported into the United States. These radios must be authorized by the FCC prior to being imported, advertised, sold, or operated in the United States.

Many of these radios violate one or more FCC technical requirements. For example, some can be modified to transmit on public safety and other land mobile channels for which they are not authorized, while others are capable of prohibited wideband operations.

Such radios are illegal, and many have the potential to negatively affect public safety, aviation, and other operations by Federal, state, and local agencies, as well as private users. Because these devices must be, but have not been, authorized by the FCC, the devices may not be imported into the United States, retailers may not advertise or sell them, and no one may use them. Rather, these devices may only be imported, advertised, sold, or used only if the FCC first has approved them under its equipment authorization process (or unless the devices operate exclusively on frequencies reserved for amateur licensees or they are intended for use exclusively by the federal government). Moreover, with only very limited exceptions, after being authorized, the devices may not be modified. Anyone importing, advertising or selling such noncompliant devices should stop immediately, and anyone owning such devices should not use them. Violators may be subject to substantial monetary penalties.

What Should You Know?

The Bureau has noted an increase in the manufacturing, importation, advertising, and sale of two-way VHF/UHF radios that are not authorized in accordance with the Commission’s rules. Generally, electronic devices that intentionally emit radio waves are required to be certified by the FCC or an authorized third-party certification entity (Telecommunications Certification Body) prior to importation, advertising, sale, or use. Two-way VHF/UHF radios require FCC certification to show compliance with our rules, unless they qualify for a limited exception (see Amateur Radio Exception, below, and Federal government exception at footnote 4).

This certification requirement ensures that equipment complies with technical requirements to avoid causing interference to federal government operations, private licensed operations, and other authorized operations or equipment. Equipment that does not comply with the technical requirements cannot be certified and thus cannot be imported, advertised, sold, or used.

Amateur Radio Exception. There is one exception to this certification requirement: if a device is capable of operating only on frequencies that the FCC has allocated for use by Amateur Radio Service licensees, it does not require FCC equipment authorization,8 and an amateur licensee may use his or her license to operate such radios. However, many two-way radios that purport to operate on amateur frequencies also operate on frequencies that extend beyond the designated amateur frequency bands. If a two-way VHF/UHF radio is capable of operating outside of the amateur frequency bands, it cannot be imported, advertised, sold, or operated within the United States without an FCC equipment certification.

Even if a two-way VHF/UHF radio operates solely within the amateur frequencies, the operator is required to have an amateur license to operate the device and must otherwise comply with all applicable rules. The Bureau will take very seriously any reports of failures of two-way radio operators to comply with all relevant rules and requirements when using devices in the amateur bands.

What Happens If Manufacturers, Retailers, or Operators Do Not Comply with the FCC’s Rules?

Violators of the Commission’s marketing rules may be subject to the penalties authorized by the Communications Act, including, but not limited to, substantial monetary fines (up to $19,639 per day of marketing violations and up to $147,290 for an ongoing violation).

What Should You Do?

The FCC rules governing two-way VHF/UHF radios are designed to minimize interference to all authorized spectrum users, including important government and public safety operations. Manufacturers, importers, retailers, and radio operators should take the time to learn the FCC rules governing equipment authorization and comply with them. When manufacturing, importing, advertising or selling two-way radios and accessories that either are electronic or have electronic components, manufacturers, importers and marketers should ensure that such devices or components are properly certified and labeled as FCCcompliant and cannot be easily modified to operate outside its grant of certification. Prior to purchase or operation, individuals should ensure that a device is either labeled as FCC-compliant or operates solely within amateur frequencies.

Need more information? For additional information regarding equipment marketing and amateur radio rules, please visit the FCC website at https://www.fcc.gov/engineering-technology/laboratory-division/general/equipmentauthorization and https://www.fcc.gov/wireless/bureau-divisions/mobility-division/amateur-radio-service, respectively. Media inquiries should be directed to Will Wiquist at (202) 418-0509 or will.wiquist@fcc.gov.

To file a complaint, visit https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov or call 1-888-CALL-FCC.

Click here to download the full advisory including footnotes (PDF).

I can’t imagine how many of these non-compliant HTs are floating around on the market. I’m guessing this could also affect the sale of used non-compliant radios–? I’m sure there are a number of amateur radio retailers that have a vast inventory of non-compliant radios that they can no longer sell, without potentially facing serious fines by the FCC.

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Full text of the PIRATE Act (H.R.5709)

Photo by Michael Maasen

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ulis (K3LU), who shares a link to the full text of the H.R.5709 – PIRATE Act–a bill to “amend the Communications Act of 1934 to provide for enhanced penalties for pirate radio, and for other purposes.”

Here’s an excerpt from the preface of the bill:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the “Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act” or the “PIRATE Act”.

SEC. 2. PIRATE RADIO ENFORCEMENT ENHANCEMENTS.

Title V of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 501 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

“SEC. 511. ENHANCED PENALTIES FOR PIRATE RADIO BROADCASTING; ENFORCEMENT SWEEPS; REPORTING.

“(a) Increased General Penalty.—Any person who willfully and knowingly does or causes or suffers to be done any pirate radio broadcasting shall be subject to a fine of not more than $2,000,000.

“(b) Violation Of This Act, Rules, Or Regulations.—Any person who willfully and knowingly violates this Act or any rule, regulation, restriction, or condition made or imposed by the Commission under authority of this Act, or any rule, regulation, restriction, or condition made or imposed by any international radio or wire communications treaty or convention, or regulations annexed thereto, to which the United States is or may hereafter become party, relating to pirate radio broadcasting shall, in addition to any other penalties provided by law, be subject to a fine of not more than $100,000 for each day during which such offense occurs, in accordance with the limit described in subsection (a).

“(c) Facilitation.—Any person who knowingly and intentionally facilitates pirate radio broadcasting shall be subject to a fine of not more than $2,000,000.

“(d) Annual Report.—Not later than one year after the date of enactment of the PIRATE Act, and annually thereafter, the Commission shall submit to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation a report summarizing the implementation of this section and associated enforcement activities for the previous fiscal year, which may include the efforts by the Commission to enlist the cooperation of Federal, State, and local law enforcement personnel (including United States Attorneys and the United States Marshals Service) for service of process, collection of fines or forfeitures, seizures of equipment, and enforcement of orders.

“(e) Enforcement Sweeps.—

“(1) ANNUAL SWEEPS.—Not less than once each year, the Commission shall assign appropriate enforcement personnel to focus specific and sustained attention on the elimination of pirate radio broadcasting within the top five radio markets identified as prevalent for such broadcasts. Such effort shall include identifying, locating, and taking enforcement actions designed to terminate such operations.

“(2) ADDITIONAL MONITORING.—Within six months after conducting the enforcement sweeps required by paragraph (1), the Commission shall conduct monitoring sweeps to ascertain whether the pirate radio broadcasting identified by enforcement sweeps is continuing to broadcast and whether additional pirate radio broadcasting is occurring.

“(3) NO EFFECT ON REMAINING ENFORCEMENT.—Notwithstanding paragraph (1), the Commission shall not decrease or diminish the regular enforcement efforts targeted to pirate radio broadcast stations for other times of the year.

“(f) State And Local Government Authority.—The Commission may not preempt any State or local law prohibiting pirate radio broadcasting.

“(g) Revision Of Commission Rules Required.—The Commission shall revise its rules to require that, absent good cause, in any case alleging a violation of subsection (a) or (b), the Commission shall proceed directly to issue a ‘Notice of Apparent Liability’ without first issuing a ‘Notice of Unlicensed Operations’.

“(h) Pirate Radio Broadcasting Database.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this section, and semi-annually thereafter, the Commission shall publish a database in a clear and legible format of all licensed radio stations operating in the AM and FM bands. The database shall be easily accessible from the Commission home page through a direct link. The database shall include the following information:

“(A) Each licensed station, listed by the assigned frequency, channel number, or Commission call letters.

“(B) All entities that have received a Notice of Unlicensed Operation, Notice of Apparent Liability, or Forfeiture Order by the Commission.

“(2) CLEAR IDENTIFICATION.—The Commission shall clearly identify in the database—

“(A) each licensed station as a station licensed by the Commission; and

“(B) each entity described in paragraph (1)(B) as operating without a Commission license or authorization.

“(i) Definitions.—In this section:

“(1) PIRATE RADIO BROADCASTING.—The term ‘pirate radio broadcasting’ means the transmission of communications on spectrum frequencies between 535 to 1705 kHz or 87.7 to 108 MHz without a license issued by the Federal Communications Commission, but does not include unlicensed operations in compliance with part 15 of title 47, Code of Federal Regulations.

“(2) FACILITATES.—The term ‘facilitates’ means providing access to property (and improvements thereon) or providing physical goods or services, including providing housing, facilities, or financing, that directly aid pirate radio broadcasting.

“(3) KNOWINGLY AND INTENTIONALLY.—The term ‘knowingly and intentionally’ means the person was previously served by the Commission with a notice of unlicensed operations, notice of apparent liability, or citation for efforts to facilitate pirate radio broadcasting.”.

Click here to read the full bill at Congress.gov.

Click here to download the bill as a PDF.

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