FCC Proposes to Fine Ohio Radio Amateur for Malicious Interference, Failure to Identify
The FCC has proposed levying an $8000 fine on a Cincinnati, Ohio, radio amateur, Daniel R. Hicks, KB8UYZ, who, at one point, had volunteered to track down the interference he was causing on a number of primarily VHF repeaters. In a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) released on August 20, the FCC Enforcement Bureau asserted that Hicks intentionally interfered with other Amateur Radio operators’ communications and failed to identify properly. According to the NAL, an agent from the Bureau’s Detroit office first responded to multiple complaints of interference on various repeaters in April 2014.
“The agent, working with a local amateur group which included Mr Hicks, was unable to locate the source of the transmission,” recounted the NAL, signed by FCC District Director James Bridgewater. Nearly a year later, in response to continued interference complaints, an agent from the Bureau’s Detroit office returned to the Cincinnati area to take another crack at finding the source of the transmissions.
“This time, the agent did not advise the local Amateur Radio group that he was in the area,” the NAL stated. “The agent used mobile direction-finding techniques to locate the source of the transmissions to…the address of record for Mr Hicks’ amateur station, KB8UYZ.”
ARRL Great Lakes Division Vice Director Tom Delaney, W8WTD, in his role as a spokesperson for the Greater Cincinnati Local Interference Committee, said at first the interference, which began in early 2014, was a nuisance, but later turned obscene and racist. He said his group was able to track the signals to a particular neighborhood, but group members were surprised to learn who was behind the interference.
“We did not know, until the FCC actually caught him, who it was,” Delaney told ARRL. “We had our suspicions. We were very close to finding the source but were not quite there, but that helped the FCC.” He said Hicks employed a “sophisticated” synthesized voice and very short transmissions across several repeaters to make him difficult to pin down.
According to the NAL, the agent monitored transmissions emanating from Hicks’ station for about an hour and heard the station transmit several recorded messages. “These transmissions prevented other amateur licensees from communicating over the frequency,” the NAL said. “During the monitoring period, the agent did not hear Mr Hicks transmit his assigned call sign. The transmissions used the call sign of another licensee.” Delaney said the holder of that call sign had no idea why Hicks used it.
The FCC said it has determined that the evidence in the case was sufficient to establish that Hicks caused willful and malicious interference and failed to identify using his assigned call sign.
The Commission proposed a base forfeiture of $7000 for causing malicious interference and $1000 for failing to identify properly. Hicks has 30 days to pay the fine or to seek a reduction or cancellation of the proposed fine.