FCC Invokes “Red Light Rule” in Denying K1MAN License Renewal Application
The curious Amateur Radio enforcement case of Glenn Baxter, now ex-K1MAN, of Belgrade Lakes, Maine, appears to winding down and may be at an end. The FCC dismissed Baxter’s long-standing license renewal application on June 23, invoking its “Red Light Rule,” which gives the Commission authority to turn down a pending application if the applicant has an unpaid fine on the books. Baxter was liable for a $10,000 FCC forfeiture stemming from violations over a period extending back several years.
“Anyone filing an application [who] is found to be delinquent in debt owed to the FCC and who fails to pay the debt in full or make other satisfactory arrangements in a timely manner will have their application dismissed,” said the Notice of Dismissal appended to Baxter’s Universal Licensing System (ULS) file. “Because you have failed to resolve this matter timely, your application is hereby dismissed.”
The FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau dismissed Baxter’s 2005 renewal application “without prejudice,” which means that if Baxter wants to be licensed again, he must file a new application — and the FCC could again invoke its Red Light Rule. Baxter’s license expired in October of 2005, but FCC rules gave him the authority to continue operating while his renewal application was pending. He lost that privilege effective on June 23.
“If you are currently operating under authority provided by the Commission’s rules based on your submission of [a renewal] application, you must immediately cease operation until such time as you come into compliance with the rules,” the dismissal letter said.
The legal history in the case is extensive. In 2011, the FCC issued a Hearing Designation Order to determine, among other things, if Baxter’s Amateur Radio license should be renewed. According to the Order, “Baxter has apparently willfully and repeatedly engaged in unlawful Commission-related activities, including causing interference to ongoing communications of other amateur stations, transmitting communications in which he had a pecuniary interest, failing to file requested information pursuant to an Enforcement Bureau directive, engaging in broadcasting without communicating with any particular station, and failing to exercise control of his station.”
In 2012, On January 10, the US District Court for the State of Maine issued a ruling in the FCC’s lawsuit to collect Baxter’s fine, initially $21,000. In writing for the Court, Chief US District Judge John A. Woodcock Jr agreed with the FCC on the first two counts — willful or repeated failure to respond to FCC requests for information, and willful or malicious interference — and granted summary judgments to the FCC in the amounts of $3000 and $7000, respectively. The Court declined to rule on the third issue —communications in which an amateur station licensee or control operator has a pecuniary interest — asserting that issues of material fact remained to be litigated in the Court.
Earlier this month, in a seeming game of “hot potato,” FCC Chief Administrative Law Judge Richard L. Sippel turned down an FCC Enforcement Bureau request that he dismiss Baxter’s renewal application with prejudice. The Enforcement Bureau filed a Request for Dismissal of Application and Termination of Proceeding in March of this year.
“Mr Baxter did not submit a substantive opposition to the Request,” Sippel wrote in his June 20 Order. While Sippel said the Bureau made a “convincing” case for him to drop the other regulatory shoe in the Baxter case and end the matter, he said he did not have that broad authority and turned the matter back to the Enforcement Bureau, which dismissed Baxter’s application 4 days later.
Sippel said that upon dismissal of Baxter’s application “by appropriate authority,” he would terminate the proceeding upon the Enforcement Bureau’s motion.