FCC Fines Radio Amateur $25,000 For Interference

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A radio amateur or “ham” is in hot water with the FCC after, according to the FCC, “intentionally interfering with the transmissions of other radio amateurs and transmitting prohibited communications, including music.”

Diamond Spring, CA-based William F. Crowell (W6WBJ), has been fined $25,000, the full amount proposed in a December 2015 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL), according to ARRL.org. In the notice and a subsequent Forfeiture Order, the FCC said that Crowell decided to “continue his misconduct after being warned that his actions violated the Communications Act and the Commission’s rules.” Members of the Western Amateur Radio Friendship Association (WARFA) complained in 2015 that Crowell interfered with their frequency, which “conducts nets three times a week on 75 meters,” according to ARRL.org.

Crowell argued that his transmissions and the content therein are protected by the First Amendment, and that WARFA instead was the party that monopolized the frequency and would not let him in. He also said that someone else caused the interference and transmitted prohibited communications at the times in question.

Crowell’s transmissions on the WARFA net on 3908 kHz between August 25 and 27, 2015, were monitored by The Enforcement Bureau and the High Frequency Direction Finding (HFDF) Center. They found, according to ARRL.org, that Crowell’s station intentionally interfered “with other amateur licensees by transmitting on top of other amateurs, and repeatedly [interrupted] amateurs using noises on the WARFA net, recordings and music, so as to not allow them to transmit on 3908 kHz.” The organizations recorded at least a dozen instances of 30 seconds to 4 minutes in length during the monitored sessions.

The FCC maintains that regulation of radio does not violate the First Amendment and that amateur radio is included. The Enforcement Bureau agreed, stating that Crowell “willfully and repeatedly violated the Communications Act and FCC rules.”

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