FCC Dismisses California Ham’s Petition to Amend Section 97.1
In September 2009, Gordon Schlesinger, W6LBV, of San Diego, California, filed a Petition for Rule Making with the FCC, seeking to amend Section 97.1 of the Commission’s rules to account for changes in technology and amateur practice since the rule was adopted. On June 8, 2010, the FCC dismissed Schlesinger’s Petition.
Section 97.1 provides that the Amateur Service rules are designed to provide an Amateur Radio Service having a fundamental purpose that is expressed in five principles: value to the public as a voluntary, non-commercial service (particularly with respect to emergency communications); advancement of the radio art; advancement of communication and technical skills; expansion of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts, and enhancing international good will. In his Petition, Schlesinger proposed “a total restatement of the Basis and Purpose for the Amateur Radio Service, to account for the numerous and significant changes both in wireless technology and in the practice of the amateur radio art over the intervening decades” since Section 97.1 was adopted in 1951.
When the Commission adopted what is now Section 97.1 in 1951, it stated “[T]he statement of the basis and purpose of the amateur rules is intended as a prospectus of the accomplishments which the Commission expects to result from the activities of a healthy Amateur Radio Service functioning within the limits of rules shaped toward this end. Additionally, and of equal importance, is the fact that an expressed firm basis thereby will be afforded for international negotiations affecting the Amateur Radio Service.
Schlesinger proposed new text in his Petition that he claimed “is equivalent to a total restatement of the Basis and Purpose for the Amateur Radio Service, to account for the numerous and significant changes both in wireless technology and in the practice of the Amateur Radio art over the intervening decades since the present Basis and Purpose was adopted. The current Basis and Purpose, which consists of five goals for the Amateur Radio Service, appears to have been adopted more than 50 years ago. The dramatic change in both telecommunications technology and the practice of Amateur Radio over the past five decades strongly suggests that a review and reconstitution of the Basis and Purpose is in order.”
Schlesinger told the Commission that he had “conducted a review” and concluded that “one of the present five goals is still relevant and is being well met by the Amateur Service, two more goals are less relevant and are being less well met, and the final two goals are no longer highly relevant.” Based on the conclusions, Schlesinger presented what he called “advanced new, more relevant goals for the Amateur Radio Service in the form of a new and completely revised Basis and Purpose. The intent of the revision is to provide for the Amateur Service and the Commission relevant contemporary goals against which the performance of the Amateur service can be measured.”
In 1989, the FCC reorganized Part 97, but declined to revise Section 97.1, concluding that “[n]o purpose would be served...by revising the principles that have stood for nearly four decades as the general statement of objectives for the Amateur Service in the United States.”
Schlesinger, in his Petition, called Section 97.1 “outmoded and in need of revision” due to changes in technology and practices, and that it diverges from the practical realities of the Amateur Service today, the Commission noted that the basis and purpose of the Amateur Service was not intended to reflect any particular technology or the practices of a particular time: “Rather, Section 97.1 is intended to provide guidance as to the accomplishments the Commission expects of the service and to assist in international negotiations affecting the service. Nothing in your Petition demonstrates that the Commission’s expectations for the Amateur Service have changed or are not being met, or that the rule is in some way hampering international negotiations that affect the Amateur Service. Nor does your Petition identify any reason to revisit the Commission’s decision in 1989 not to change the basis and purpose of the Amateur Service. Consequently, we conclude that the Petition presents no evidence meriting a rule change.”