Register Account

Login Help


FCC Levies $25,000 Fine on California Radio Amateur for Deliberate Interference


The FCC has imposed a $25,000 fine on William F. Crowell, W6WBJ (ex-N6AYJ), of Diamond Spring, California, for intentionally interfering with the transmissions of other radio amateurs and transmitting prohibited communications, including music. The penalty represents the full amount proposed in a December 2015 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL), and, the FCC said in a lengthy August 2 Forfeiture Order (FO), “is based on the full base forfeiture amount as well as an upward adjustment reflecting Mr Crowell’s decision to continue his misconduct after being warned that his actions violated the Communications Act and the Commission’s rules.”

“Mr Crowell does not deny that he made the transmissions that prompted the NAL in this proceeding, but argues, in large part, that those transmissions were protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution,” the Forfeiture Order said. In his responses to the NAL, Crowell not only argued that the enforcement action was directed at the content of his transmissions, which were protected by the Constitution, but were justified on the basis of other operators’ actions. “Alternatively, Mr Crowell maintains that someone else caused the interference or transmitted prohibited communications at issue in this proceeding,” the FCC said.

The FCC demurred. “It is well-established that regulation of radio in general does not violate the First Amendment or [the Communications Act],” the Commission’s Forfeiture Order said, “and courts have made clear that this conclusion applies to the Amateur Service as well.”

Prompting the December 2015 NAL were complaints by members of the Western Amateur Radio Friendship Association (WARFA), which conducts nets three times a week on 75 meters. Crowell had argued that the WARFA Net monopolized the frequency and refused to let him check in.

The Enforcement Bureau recounted that its agents and the High Frequency Direction Finding (HFDF) Center monitored Crowell’s transmissions during the WARFA Net on 3908 kHz on August 25 and August 27, 2015. The agents and the HFDF Center observed Crowell’s Amateur Radio station “intentionally interfering with other amateur licensees by transmitting on top of other amateurs, and repeatedly interrupting amateurs using noises on the WARFA net, recordings and music, so as to not allow them to transmit on 3908 kHz,” the Forfeiture Order said.

“Specifically, between 7:45 PM and 9:45 PM PDT, on both August 25 and August 27," the FO continued, "the Agents and the HFDF Center observed at least a dozen instances, lasting from 30 seconds to at least 4 minutes each, of Mr Crowell intentionally transmitting on top of and repeatedly interrupting amateurs on the WARFA net.”

The Enforcement Bureau concluded that Crowell “willfully and repeatedly” violated the Communications Act and FCC rules “by intentionally causing interference to other Amateur Radio operators and transmitting prohibited communications, including music.” The Bureau said that after reviewing Crowell’s arguments, it found no reason to cancel, withdraw, or reduce the penalty it had proposed last December.

Crowell has a long-standing relationship with the FCC Enforcement Bureau. In 2008 the FCC designated his license renewal application for hearing, alleging that he had caused intentional interference, interrupted others’ communications, transmitted music, and made one-way transmissions, including some containing “indecent language,” the FCC said. His license, which expired in 2007, has not been renewed, but Crowell may continue to operate while his application is pending. 



Instragram     Facebook     Twitter     YouTube     LinkedIn