FCC Fines Alaska Man for Interfering with Air Traffic Using CB Radio
On July 17, the FCC announced that it had issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and Order (NAL) in the amount of $12,500 to Glenn S. Yamada, of Kenai, Alaska. Yamada is accused of “apparently willfully and repeatedly violat[ing] Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and Sections 95.409(a) and 95.411(a)(1) and (b) of the FCC Rules by operating his CB radio “without requisite Commission authorization.”
In January 2012, the FCC received a complaint regarding interference to an authorized user in the aeronautical band -- a safety of life service -- on 21.964 MHz. According to the FCC, the complaint “Concerned a male subject talking and interfering with the control and monitoring of air traffic over the North Atlantic.” The FCC’s High Frequency Direction Finding Center (HFDFC) monitored the frequency over the next few days, and on January 31, “observed a subject matching the details of the compliant transmitting on the frequency 21.965 MHz.” The HFDFC noted that the subject was using the call “1600 Alaska,” that the actual operating frequency was 27.025 (CB channel 6) and that the transmissions were coming from Kenai.
An agent from the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau in Anchorage used direction finding techniques to locate the source of the interference. He found the source to be coming from Yamada’s residence and found that the interfering signal to 21.964 MHz was determined to be on 21.965 MHz, which correlates to CB channel 6 on 27.025 MHz; apparently, faulty equipment on CB Channel 6 produced a spurious signal on frequency 21.965 MHz, the source of the interference to frequency 21.964 MHz. A review of the FCC’s Universal Licensing System revealed that Yamada had no individual license to operate a CB radio station.
The agent, along with an officer from the Kenai Police Department, inspected Yamada’s station on February 6. “The agent observed a non-certificated CB transmitter and a linear amplifier as part of Mr Yamada’s CB station,” the FCC noted. “Mr Yamada admitted to the agent that the linear amplifier was capable of generating a power output of 200 W. The agent observed that the transmitter and the linear amplifier were connected and that the linear was connected to a transmission cable and ultimately to the directional antenna at the back of Mr Yamada’s residence. Mr Yamada told the agent that this was his hobby setup and that he had been operating it for the last several weeks.” Yamada admitted to the agent that he used the handle “1600 Alaska.”
Section 301 of the Communications Act states that “no person shall use or operate any apparatus for the transmission of energy or communications or signals by radio within the United States, except under and in accordance with the Act and with a license granted under the provisions of the Act.” Section 95.404 of the FCC Rules states that CB operators are not required to have individual licenses because they are authorized by this rule to operate a CB station, provided, however, that they operate the station in accordance with Subpart D of Part 95 of the Rules (CB Rules). Section 95.409(a) of the FCC Rules states that CB operators must use FCC certificated CB transmitters at their CB stations, and that the use of a transmitter that is not FCC certificated voids their authority to operate the station. Section 95.411(a)(1) of the FCC Rules states that CB operators may not attach external radio frequency (RF) power amplifiers (sometimes called linears or linear amplifiers) to certificated CB transmitters in any way. Section 95.411(b) of the Rules states that there are no exceptions to this rule and that use of a power amplifier voids their authority to operate the station. The FCC will presume you have used a linear or other external RF power amplifier if the amplifier is located in the operator’s premises and if there is other evidence showing that the station was operated with more power than authorized.
Section 503(b) of the Communications Act provides that “any person who willfully or repeatedly fails to comply substantially with the terms and conditions of any license, or willfully or repeatedly fails to comply with any of the provisions of the Act or of any rule, regulation, or order issued by the Commission thereunder, shall be liable for a forfeiture penalty.” Section 312(f)(1) of the Act defines “willful” as the “conscious and deliberate commission or omission of [any] act, irrespective of any intent to violate” the law. The term “repeated” means the commission or omission of such act more than once or for more than one day.
According to the FCC’s Forfeiture Policy Statement and Section 1.80 of the FCC Rules, the base forfeiture amount for operation without an instrument of authorization for the service is $10,000. “In assessing the monetary forfeiture amount, we must also take into account the statutory factors set forth in Section 503(b)(2)(E) of the Communications Act, which include the nature, circumstances, extent and gravity of the violations, and with respect to the violator, the degree of culpability, any history of prior offenses, ability to pay, and other such matters as justice may require. Here, we find that an upward adjustment of the base forfeiture amount is warranted because of the gravity of the violations. As the record reflects, Mr Yamada’s unauthorized operations posed a significant public safety risk, given the interference caused to an authorized user in the aeronautical band (a safety of life service). Applying the Forfeiture Policy Statement, Section 1.80 of the Rules and the statutory factors to the instant case, we conclude that Yamada is apparently liable for a forfeiture in the amount of $12,500.”
Given what the FCC called “the public safety concerns of the violations,” it also directed Yamada to submit a statement signed under penalty of perjury “confirming whether he is still engaged in CB operations and, if so, to state if he: (1) is using a certified CB transmitter; and (2) has not attached any linear amplifiers to his CB station.” Yamada must submit this statement to the FCC Office in Anchorage no later than August 17, 2012. Failure to comply with this requirement could subject the Yamada to additional enforcement action, the FCC warned.
Yamada has until August 17, 2012 to pay the full amount of the forfeiture or file a written statement seeking a reduction in the amount or a cancellation. The written statement seeking reduction or cancellation of the proposed forfeiture, if any, must include a detailed factual statement supported by appropriate documentation and affidavits, such as federal tax returns for the most recent three-year period, financial statements prepared according to generally accepted accounting practices or some other reliable and objective documentation that accurately reflects the Yamada’s current financial status.