Last month, the FCC issued an NAL against an Oklahoma man for operating a radio transmitter from his home without permission from the FCC.
A local FCC Enforcement Bureau agent using direction finding techniques detected strong signals coming from a home in Oklahoma. The agent saw an antenna on the roof of the house, as well as a coaxial cable running from the antenna into the home. When the agent sought to speak with a resident of the house, the occupant initially refused to answer the door and another person told the agent that the resident was not home. However, the occupant eventually appeared at the door. He showed the Enforcement agent the CB transmitter, which was warm to the touch, but not connected to the coaxial cable from the rooftop antenna. The agent traced the path of the coaxial cable coming from the antenna, which led to a linear amplifier hidden behind a couch that was also “warm to the touch.”
The Communications Act of 1934 (the “Act”) prohibits anyone from transmitting “energy or communications or signals by radio within the United States except under and in accordance with the Act and with a license.” CB operators are not required to have a license because the FCC’s rules authorize their operation, but only where that operation otherwise complies with the FCC’s rules. However, one of those rules is that “CB operators may not attach external radio frequency (RF) power amplifiers . . . to certificated CB transmitters in any way.” The FCC assumes that a person is using an amplifier if it “is located on the individual’s premises and if there is other evidence showing that a CB station was operated with more power than allowed by the Rules.” Under this test, the FCC found that the Oklahoma resident operated his CB station with the amplifier since the agent saw the amplifier at his residence and the signal coming from the home demonstrated “that his CB station was operated with more power than allowed by the Rules.”
The base fine for unlicensed operation is $10,000, and the FCC has discretion to increase the fine based upon the circumstances. In this case, the local FCC office had previously sent two written warnings to the resident warning him that using an amplifier with a CB transmitter violated the Communications Act and the FCC’s Rules. Because of this, the FCC determined that a $5,000 increase from the base fine was warranted and imposed a fine of $15,000.