FCC Turns Down Amateur Licensee’s Appeal

In a Memorandum Opinion and Order (MO&O) released on February 20, the FCC turned down an appeal by William F. Crowell, W6WBJ, of Diamond Springs, California, of an Administrative Law Judge’s (ALJ) dismissal of Crowell’s amateur radio license renewal application. Chief ALJ Richard L. Sippel, ruled in 2018 that Crowell “failed to prosecute his application by refusing to attend a hearing scheduled by the judge,” and that this warranted dismissal of Crowell’s 2007 renewal application. The FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau had designated Crowell’s renewal application for hearing based on allegations that he had violated the Communications Act and FCC rules by causing intentional interference and by transmitting one-way communications, indecent language, and music on amateur frequencies. The hearing was set to be held in Washington, DC, and Crowell filed a notice of appearance certifying that he would appear and present his case.The case was interrupted by what the FCC in the MO&O called “a hiatus of several years, during which Crowell’s petition to disqualify the Judge was pending.”

In August 2016, the FCC imposed a $25,000 fine on Crowell for intentional interference and transmitting prohibited communications. The FCC said in a Forfeiture Order (FO) that the penalty “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.” The FCC noted that Crowell did not deny making the alleged transmissions but argued in large part that they were protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution,” the Forfeiture Order said. The February 20 MO&O does not reference the Forfeiture Order nor its disposition.

When the renewal application litigation resumed in 2017, Crowell asked that the hearing be moved to the Sacramento, California, area, arguing that he could not afford to travel to Washington. Sippel denied the motion.

“In the Dismissal Order, the Judge responded to Crowell’s refusal to attend a hearing in Washington, D.C., by granting the Enforcement Bureau’s motion to dismiss Crowell’s application,” the FCC said in its MO&O. The ALJ held that Crowell’s refusal to attend a hearing in Washington, DC, “constituted a failure to prosecute and thereby effectively violated Section 1.221(c) of the rules, which requires dismissal if an applicant fails to commit to appear on the date fixed for hearing.” The Judge agreed with the Enforcement Bureau that many of the arguments Crowell raised on appeal “are not properly before us in reviewing the Dismissal Order and should be disregarded.”

Crowell’s amateur license expired in 2007, but he has been permitted, under FCC rules, to operate while his renewal application remains pending.

Radio Amateur to Lose License as Part of Enforcement Case Settlement

A New Jersey radio amateur, David S. Larsen Sr., WS2L, of Highland Park, will surrender his Amateur Extra-class license and pay a $7,500 civil penalty as part of a Consent Decree with the FCC to settle an enforcement action. An FCC Enforcement Bureau Order released June 18 said Larsen violated the Communications Act of 1934 and Part 90 rules by operating on frequencies licensed to the Borough of Highland Park for public safety communication.

As part of the settlement, Larsen agrees that he will admit making the unauthorized transmissions, not engage in unauthorized use of a radio station, and surrender radios in his possession capable of transmitting on the town’s public safety frequencies. If the Commission finds that Larsen has made unauthorized radio transmissions or otherwise violates the terms of the Consent Decree, he’ll be subject to an additional $32,500 civil penalty. The agreement stipulates that Larsen may not apply for a new Amateur Radio license for 3 years.

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FCC Fines Amateur Radio Licensee $25,000 for Operating Unlicensed FM Station

In an FCC Enforcement Bureau case going back to early 2015, a Paterson, New Jersey, Amateur Radio licensee has been penalized in the amount of $25,000 for allegedly continuing to operate an unlicensed FM radio station. The FCC issued a Forfeiture Order on October 30 to Winston A. Tulloch, KC2ALN, a General class licensee. The fine followed an April 2018 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture(NAL) issued to Tulloch for alleged “willful and repeated violation” of Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, by operating an unlicensed FM radio station on 90.9 MHz in Paterson. Tulloch did not respond to the NAL, the FCC indicated.

“Commission action in this area is essential because unlicensed radio stations do not broadcast Emergency Alert Service messages and therefore create a public safety hazard for their listener,” the FCC said in the Forfeiture Order. “Moreover, unlicensed radio stations create a danger of interference to licensed communications and undermine the Commission’s authority over broadcast radio operations.”

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FCC Fines Drone-Maker, Pennsylvania Ham

In two unrelated actions, the FCC is proposing a fine of nearly $3 million for a drone manufacturer it says is using unauthorized audio/video transmitters in its devices, and agreed to a $7,000 payment from a Pennsylvania ham to settle a 4-year-old enforcement action for interference on 14.313 MHz.

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