FCC Assigns Contested Vanity Call Sign to Wisconsin Amateur Radio Club
In an Order on Reconsideration and Order Proposing Modification released on Wednesday, September 24, the FCC decided that Falls Amateur Radio Club (FARC) was the rightful recipient of call sign W9CQ. FARC and the QRQ CW and Contest Group (QRQ) had both claimed they were entitled to use the call.
In 2007, the Commission was notified that Paul Kent, to whose amateur station call sign W9CQ was then assigned, had died on January 1, 2006. Therefore, the call sign was due to become available for reassignment through the vanity call sign system on January 2, 2008. On April 3, 2007, Robert C. Moldenhauer filed an application requesting W9CQ as a vanity call sign, stating that he was eligible for the call sign prior to the expiration of the two-year waiting period because he was an in-law of Paul Kent; the application was granted on April 21, 2007. On August 3, 2007, Moldenhauer filed another application requesting modification of his amateur station call sign to, among other call signs, W9IS. This application was granted on August 21, 2007, resulting in his license for call sign W9CQ to be surrendered and canceled. On November 1, 2007, after inquiry by the Commission's Enforcement Bureau, Moldenhauer reported that he had surrendered call sign W9CQ after realizing that he was related to a different Paul Kent and therefore was not eligible for the call sign prior to the end of the two-year waiting period.
Falls Amateur Radio Club and the QRQ CW and Contest Group
On January 2, 2008, FARC filed an application requesting to modify its Amateur Radio station license to W9CQ. The Commission dismissed the application on the grounds that the call sign was not available, because it was less than two years since it had been surrendered by Moldenhauer. On January 23, 2008, FARC filed a petition for reconsideration of the dismissal, arguing that the call sign should have been made available to the vanity call sign system on January 2, 2008 because Moldenhauer was not eligible for the call sign prior to the expiration of the two-year waiting period. Additionally, FARC requested that call sign W9CQ be assigned to its station license since it was the only applicant that requested call sign W9CQ on that date.
On May 23, 2008, QRQ submitted an application to modify its amateur radio station license to show the call sign W9CQ. The application submitted to the FCC stated that QRQ was acting with the written consent of a nephew of Paul Kent. This application was granted on June 10, 2008.
The FCC Decides
The Commission, in their decision, stated that they agreed with FARC that call sign W9CQ should have been made available to the vanity call sign system on January 2, 2008, as Moldenhauer was not eligible for the intervening grant of the call sign: "As specifically provided in public notices setting forth the procedures of the vanity call sign system, 'Where a vanity call sign for which the most recent recipient was ineligible is surrendered, canceled, revoked or voided, the two year requirement does not apply.'" The FCC also found that since FARC was the only applicant for that call sign on January 2, 2008, the call sign should have been assigned to FARC's amateur station.
The FCC did not see how, at this time, that they could set aside QRQ's application for W9CQ, saying that grant is a "final action," but goes on to say that "Section 316(a)(1) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, provides the appropriate vehicle to correct this error." This section permits the Commission to modify a station license "if the action will promote the public interest, convenience, and necessity."
The FCC proposed to modify QRQ's Amateur Radio station license "to show the call sign KC9MWH, which was the call sign assigned to QRQ's amateur station prior to the grant of its application. The proposed modification would serve the public interest by ensuring that the procedures of the vanity call sign system are followed." The FCC stated that upon the modification of QRQ's license, they would then be able to assign call sign W9CQ to FARC "pursuant to its application."
The FCC ordered that the petition filed by FARC is granted "to the extent indicated" in the Order and their application is returned to pending status. It was further ordered that "it is proposed that the license of QRQ be modified" by returning the previous call sign of KC9MWH.
In its decision, the Commission said that in accordance with Section 97.27(b) of the Commission's Rules, they will not issue a modification order until QRQ has received notice of the proposed action "and has had an opportunity to file a protest. To protest the modification, QRQ must, within thirty days of the release date of this Order on Reconsideration and Order Proposing Modification, submit a written statement with sufficient evidence to show that the modification would not be in the public interest. The protest must be filed with the Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission." The FCC further stated that if no protest is filed, "QRQ will have waived its right to protest the modification and will be deemed to have consented to the modification."