FCC Cites Ham’s “History of Compliance” in Reducing Fine for Unlicensed Broadcasting
The FCC has cited the otherwise clean record of an Amateur Radio licensee in deciding to reduce his fine for “willfully and repeatedly” violating the Communications Act and FCC rules. Brian R. Ragan, KF6EGI, of Suisun City, California, was found liable for operating an unlicensed FM broadcasting station for 6 months and for failing to allow FCC personnel to inspect his station. In a Forfeiture Order released March 10, the FCC fined Ragan $13,600 — a $3400 reduction of the $17,000 the Commission initially proposed to levy in the case, which dates back to 2012. In deciding to reduce Ragan’s fine, the FCC said it took into account Ragan’s “history of compliance as an Amateur licensee.”
“Prior to this violation, Mr Ragan had no violations of the [Communications] Act or the [FCC] rules as an Amateur Radio operator,” the FCC said in the Forfeiture Order, “and, therefore, consistent with the [forfeiture] adjustment factors, we find that reduction of the forfeiture based on Mr Ragan’s history of compliance is warranted and reduce the forfeiture by $3400.”
As precedent the Commission cited another 2012 case involving an Amateur Extra class operator, Joaquim Barbosa, N2KBJ, of Elizabeth, New Jersey. In a July 2012 Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL), the FCC found Barbosa liable for operating an unlicensed transmitter that interfered with a government communications system, and for not allowing an FCC inspection. The FCC reduced its initial $20,000 levy to $16,000, however, citing Barbosa’s “overall history of compliance with the laws, including the Commission’s rules.”
In Ragan’s case, the FCC said agents from its San Francisco Office in February 2012 used direction-finding gear to track the source of an apparently unlicensed signal, identifying as KBRS, on 104.9 MHz in the FM broadcast band to Ragan’s residence. When no one answered the door, the agents posted a Notice of Unlicensed Operation on his door. Shortly thereafter, the broadcast stopped.
Ragan did not deny the violations but requested a reduction in his fine because he “had no malicious intent in his operation and because the proposed forfeiture is a harsh penalty for someone who immediately complied with a Notice of Unlicensed Operation,” the FCC recounted.
In its Forfeiture Order, the FCC noted that Ragan has held an FCC Technician class Amateur Radio license, KF6EGI, since 2006. “Mr Ragan, as a licensed Amateur Radio operator for at least six years, should be aware that any radio equipment at his station must be made available for inspection at any time, when requested by the FCC, and also should be aware of the proper operation of his amateur station in accordance with the Rules,” the FCC said.
As required by the NAL, Ragan submitted a statement that he is now in full compliance with the Communications Act and no longer engaged in unauthorized operation on 104.9. Ragan also said he is willing to allow FCC personnel to inspect for verification.