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FCC Proposes to Penalize California Licensee $25,000 for Causing Intentional Interference

12/19/2015

The FCC Enforcement Bureau has proposed fining William F. Crowell, W6WBJ (ex-N6AYJ), of Diamond Springs, California, $25,000 for intentionally interfering with other Amateur Radio operators and transmitting prohibited communications, including music. FCC San Francisco District Director David K. Hartshorn released a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) on December 18, detailing the allegations. An Advanced class licensee, Crowell is no stranger to the Enforcement Bureau, which had warned him as far back as 2000 about intentional interference. In 2008 the FCC designated his current 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. Prompting the December 18 NAL were complaints earlier this year by members of the Western Amateur Radio Friendship Association (WARFA), which conducts nets three times a week on 75 meters.

“Deliberate interference undermines the utility of the Amateur Radio Service by preventing communications among licensed users that comply with the Commission’s rules,” the FCC said in its NAL. “Mr Crowell’s deliberate interference to other users, using voice, noises, and music, directly contravenes the Amateur Radio service’s fundamental purpose as a voluntary noncommercial communications service…”

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. As the agents and the HFDF Center listened, Crowell “repeatedly interrupted other amateurs using noises, recordings, and music, in addition to talking over amateurs affiliated with the WARFA Net, so as no not allow them to transmit on the frequency,” the FCC said in its NAL. “His transmissions and recordings included racial, ethnic, and sexual slurs and epithets.” According to the NAL, the interference continued until the net shut down.

During an inspection of his station, Crowell acknowledged to FCC agents that he operates on 3908 kHz among other frequencies on most nights, and that he was transmitting on the evening of August 27. The agents warned Crowell that his transmissions violated the Communications Act and FCC rules. Crowell asserted that playing recordings was not against the rules and, the FCC reported, “that he would continue to operate his amateur station as he had been doing.” The FCC said on August 30, the HFDF Center again monitored Crowell “using his amateur station to engage in the same types of intentional interfering transmissions during the meeting time for the WARFA Net.”

Crowell was given 30 days from the release of the NAL to pay the forfeiture or to file in writing seeking reduction or cancellation of the proposed penalty. 



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