Riley Hollingsworth to North Carolina Club: Amateur Enforcement “Very Much Alive”

Riley Hollingsworth to North Carolina Club: Amateur Enforcement “Very Much Alive”

TAGS: amateur radio, amateur radio club, Amateur Radio enforcement, Amateur Radio population, enforcement activities, fcc, FCC Chairman Tom, FCC personnel, FCC Special Counsel, gary pearce, ham radio, Ham Radio news, laura smith, north carolina, radio amateurs, Radio Service Enforcement


Former FCC Special Counsel for Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, told the Forsyth Amateur Radio Club that the FCC is still active in the Amateur Radio enforcement arena, even though it’s not always apparent. He spoke to the Winston-Salem, North Carolina, club on November 10.

“You may not think so, but enforcement is very much alive,” said Hollingsworth, who — although retired — still keeps up with goings on at the FCC and with the enforcement activities of his successor, FCC Special Counsel Laura Smith. “You just don’t hear a lot about it, as you used to,” he said, because ham radio news media report only the “big announcements” these days. During his tenure, Hollingsworth routinely released preliminary letters of inquiry and warning notices to radio amateurs suspected of breaking the rules. Now, he said, the FCC is using “the IRS model,” partly in response to privacy considerations.

“You only see final actions [now],” he said. “So, you don’t think a lot’s being done, but it’s all behind the scenes, and you don’t know about it.”

What is not helpful, he told the club members, is e-mailing or writing Laura Smith or the FCC proper, regarding enforcement issues. Hollingsworth said the FCC has received “nasty e-mails to FCC personnel” concerning suspected ham radio rule breaking.

“I’m talking about horrible e-mails, threatening e-mails, threatening to the degree that the security office sometimes gets involved,” he said. “We’ve got to stop this.” Hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet, he pointed out, gives some people within the FCC a bad impression of ham radio and could prove counterproductive.

Hollingsworth suggested that hams interested in keeping up with enforcement subscribe to the FCC Daily Digest or view it on the FCC website. “You read these and you get an idea of how busy the FCC is across the board,” he said. The FCC also documents Amateur Radio Service enforcement actions on its website. The page is not frequently updated, however.

Hollingsworth pointed out that the FCC is still running two parallel websites, since many were unhappy with the new site when it was unveiled a few years ago. The old — or “transition” — site remains fully functional.

Hollingsworth praised FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler for his role in helping to get the agency on a more active footing, and Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc, who was appointed last March. “I’m very impressed with him,” Hollingsworth said of LeBlanc. The Enforcement Bureau is the FCC’s largest bureau.

In remarks now familiar to many who have heard him speak at Dayton Hamvention and elsewhere, Hollingsworth also warned his audience members against getting into on-the-air spats with rude or careless operators.

“Don’t engage people, and don’t humor the idiots,” he said. “Stupidity can’t be regulated, no matter how good the rules are. Just turn the big knob. Every rig has one.”

Hollingsworth speculated that a lot of interference that is considered deliberate actually is accidental, but that hams encountering it automatically assume offense. He said the number of rule breakers represent only a small fraction of a percent of the Amateur Radio population, however, and “they’re getting whittled down.”

“Our responsibility is to get Amateur Radio through the next 100 years,” Hollingsworth concluded. “You must recruit. You’ve got to keep these newcomers interested” and show them everything ham radio has to offer.

Today’s hams, he said, ought to be presenting a good example for those who follow. “It’s time for us to leave a legacy for this avocation,” he said.

Hollingsworth’s complete talk appears as Episode 174 of the online Amateur Radio television series HamRadioNow, produced by Gary Pearce, KN4AQ. — Thanks to HamRadioNow and Gary Pearce, KN4AQ


via Riley Hollingsworth to North Carolina Club: Amateur Enforcement “Very Much Alive”.


On 10 November 2014, former FCC Special Counsel for Enforcement, Riley Hollingsworth (K4ADH) told members of the Forsyth Amateur Radio Club in Winston-Salem, North Carolina that FCC enforcement is “still active in the Amateur Radio arena, even though it’s not always apparent.”  Much of the FCC’s enforcement activities never make the headlines.  A lot goes on behind the scenes.  Hollingsworth reminded hams that what is not helpful to enforcement efforts are “nasty emails” to FCC personnel.   He asked hams to avoid on-the-air confrontations with angry or belligerent operators.  These behavior patterns will create a bad impression for amateur radio operators, just when we need the FCC the most for enforcement actions.  Good, basic advice from one who knows the system.

For the latest Amateur Radio news and events, please check out the blog sidebars.  These news feeds are updated daily.

Aloha es 73 de Russ (KH6JRM).

FCC Reverses ALJ’s Decision, Revokes Convicted Sex Offender’s Amateur Radio License

FCC Reverses ALJ’s Decision, Revokes Convicted Sex Offender’s Amateur Radio License

TAGS: Administrative Law Judge, amateur license, amateur radio license, Commission licensee, Enforcement Bureau, fcc, fcc license, felony conviction, felony convictions, General class license, Initial Decision, law-abiding member, requisite character qualifications, Richard L. Sippel, Seattle Police Department


The FCC has reversed the decision of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who ruled in 2010 that David Titus, KB7ILD, of Seattle, Washington, could keep his Amateur Radio license in the wake of his conviction for a sex-related crime 17 years earlier. In his March 9, 2010, Initial Decision, ALJ Richard L. Sippel determined that Titus “has been a law-abiding member of his community for many years” and, based on evidence that Titus and witnesses on his behalf had presented, ordered that Titus’s amateur license not be revoked. Sippel also ruled that the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau had failed to meet the burden of proof necessary for revocation. He determined that Titus had shown remorse and been rehabilitated, and that the Enforcement Bureau had presented no credible evidence to indicate that Titus should be categorized as a high-risk sex offender. In a November 5 Decision in the proceeding (EB Docket 07-13), the FCC reversed Sippel’s decision.

“We find that the ALJ erred in holding that the Enforcement Bureau failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that Titus is currently unqualified to remain a Commission licensee,” the Decision said, “inasmuch as the ALJ failed to consider relevant convictions for sex offenses and failed to give appropriate deference to the judgment of local law enforcement authorities that Titus is a convicted sex offender who poses a high risk to the safety of the community.”

In January 2007 the FCC issued a show-cause Order and designated for hearing the issue of whether Titus was qualified to remain a licensee in light of a 1993 felony conviction for “communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.” The Communications Act provides that the FCC may revoke any license, if conditions come to its attention that would have warranted a denial of the licensee’s original application. The Commission has said in the past that felony convictions, “especially those involving sexual offenses involving children,” raise questions regarding a licensee’s character qualifications.

Titus’s General class license expired in 2009, and the FCC had deferred action on his renewal application while the revocation proceeding was still in play. The FCC also dismissed Titus’s 2010 reply to the Enforcement Bureau’s exceptions in the matter, because they were filed 5 days late. The FCC said Sippel should have given more weight to incidents in 2002 and 2004 that, while not resulting in conviction, “prompted the Seattle Police Department to raise Titus’s assessed risk level from moderate to high.”

“After a review of the record and the relevant case law, we find that the ALJ committed several errors in reaching his ultimate finding that [the Enforcement Bureau] did not meet its burden of proving that Titus lacks the requisite character qualifications to be an FCC license,” the Commission concluded. “In particular, we hold that the ALJ erred in failing to consider Titus’s two juvenile convictions and failed to give adequate weight to the State of Washington’s determination that Titus is a high-risk sex offender.” The FCC pointed out that Titus was confined for more than 1 year for each of his juvenile offenses, and they demonstrate that Titus’s “single adult felony conviction was not an isolated offense and is therefore all the more egregious and disqualifying.”

The FCC said that given “known risks of Amateur Radios in the hands of sex offenders, such misconduct is prima facie disqualifying, and has resulted in the loss of licenses in past cases.”

“In focusing on the impact of Titus’s misconduct on his qualifications to hold an Amateur Radio license,” the FCC concluded, “we would be remiss in our responsibilities as a licensing authority if we continue to authorize Titus to hold an Amateur Radio license that could be used to put him in contact with children.”

via FCC Reverses ALJ’s Decision, Revokes Convicted Sex Offender’s Amateur Radio License.


At last, this sordid affair has been ended.  This person is both an embarrassment to the amateur radio community and a danger to children. The FCC acted correctly in this case, summing their position by adding, “We would be remiss in our responsibilities as a licensing authority if we continue to authorize Titus to hold an Amateur Radio license that could be used to put him in contact with children.”  Well said…case closed.

For the latest in Amateur Radio news and events, please check out the blog sidebars.  These news feeds are updated daily.

Aloha es 73 de Russ (KH6JRM).

ARRL Asks FCC to Continue Issuing Hard Copy Licenses to Those Who Want Them

ARRL Asks FCC to Continue Issuing Hard Copy Licenses to Those Who Want Them

TAGS: amateur radio, amateur radio license, amateur radio service, ARRL General Counsel, commission, FCC Public Notice, license application, license document


In comments filed November 5, the ARRL has recommended that the FCC continue to provide paper license documents to Amateur Radio licensees who want them. The League’s remarks were in response to an FCC Public Notice (in WT Docket 14-161) that proposed to cease the routine issuance of hard-copy license documents to all Wireless Service licensees, including radio amateurs. While having a paper license document from the FCC to post on the wall of the ham shack has been a tradition, the Commission for several years has considered the “official” Amateur Radio license to be the virtual document residing in its Universal Licensing System (ULS) database.

“The FCC is willing to continue to mail paper licenses to those who request them,” ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, has explained. “However, they are making available to licensees — starting right now — the actual license to print via the FCC ULS, and it is allowing hams now to opt out of receiving paper licenses from the FCC directly.” (See ULS menu image.)

Under the FCC-proposed process, once a license application is granted, the ULS will generate an official electronic license but will no longer mail a hard copy license unless notified that the licensee wishes to receive an official paper license document. Until new procedures are final, however, the Commission will continue to print and mail official paper licenses, unless notified to stop.

“Should the Commission proceed with the Notice proposals,” the League said in its comments, “it is ARRL’s strong recommendation that the Commission give serious consideration to continuing a default provision for sending an initial paper license document to new licensees in the Amateur Radio Service, along with detailed, simple instructions for how to make the elections set forth in the notice relative to future modified or renewed licenses.”

The ARRL pointed out that not everyone has easy access to, or is comfortable using, the ULS and that Amateur Radio licensees may occasionally need an official license document — for example, when applying for a license upgrade at a VEC exam session or for vehicle call sign license plates.

“If there is not a license printed on distinctive license stock by the Commission, authentication issues arise and the possibility of electronic alteration of a license document is created,” the League.

The ARRL also suggested that requiring individuals to go online in order to obtain a license document may prove to be a roadblock to some applicants.

“It is not acceptable to erect barriers to entry for anyone to obtain an Amateur Radio license or to modify a license,” the League commented. “ARRL is concerned that there should be, especially for newcomers, an easy, intuitive path to make the election for license delivery method that does not involve ULS access at the outset.”

The Notice also proposes, alternatively, that the FCC send the official electronic license via e-mail upon grant of an application, if the applicant has provided a valid e-mail address on the application form. Licensees not wanting to provide an e-mail address could obtain an official electronic license document directly from the ULS. The Notice further proposes that licensees could notify the Commission that they wish to receive or continue receiving official authorizations on paper.

The ULS License Manager online system now includes a setting that allows licensees to notify the FCC that they want to receive official licenses on paper. Licensees could change the default setting online, so that once an application has been granted, the FCC would mail an official paper license.

The deadline to file comments is November 10.

via ARRL Asks FCC to Continue Issuing Hard Copy Licenses to Those Who Want Them.


If you feel strongly about WT Docket 14-161, please let the FCC know by 10 November 2014.  I always preferred a “paper copy” of my license to mount on the shack wall with my other Amateur Radio momentos.  As long as your records are in virtual storage at the FCC, I guess it doesn’t make much difference what kind of license document you have.  For some of us, though, the paper license is a reminder of our first license which was mailed to us from the FCC.  I guess I’m getting old.

For the latest Amateur Radio news and events, please check out the blog sidebars.  These news feeds are updated daily.

Aloha es 73 de Russ (KH6JRM).

NAB Sues FCC Over Incentive Auction


The National Association of Broadcasters filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Monday, challenging the FCC‘s decision to change the methodology used to predict local television coverage areas for the incentive auction.


Why This Matters: NAB argued that the auction framework “violates the Spectrum Act, is arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion under the Administrative Procedure Act.” The association argued that the FCC’s proposal could result in significant viewership loss.

Thanks to reporter Dave Hall for this fascinating article.  I often wondered when the FCC frequency auction process would affect those who control broadcast media…now I know.  Now that the broadcast media giants are threatened by the new FCC “incentive auction process”, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has taken notice and has filed suit to stop the plan.The NAB contends the new auction protocol “violates The Spectrum Act, is arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion under the Administrative Procedure Act.”  Perhaps, amateur radio operators and public service personnel can find an ally in our more powerful and financially stable commercial media friends.  Broadcasters are springing into action, now that their advertising and viewer numbers are threatened by the auction process.  Strange bedfellows, indeed.  Aloha de Russ (KH6JRM).

See on Scoop.itKH6JRM’s Amateur Radio Blog

Hilariously Useless Comments About Science from the US Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court is not composed of scientists. We’ve seen this before. But they do end up hearing a lot of cases that involve science, and are forced to describe the concepts and technology before them. They do not always rise to the challenge.


This article on the technological and scientific shortcomings of the U.S. Supreme Court is both humorous and, sadly, frightening.  Author Katharine Trendacosta does a good job of explaining  how Supreme Court Justices try to understand and rule on the rapid technological developments that are changing society.  Sometimes, their arguments involve convoluted arguments that could better be expressed with plain English.  Other times, their view reflects a scientific naivete that is simply astounding.  All of this could be funny until you realize the court’s decisions will affect science, technology, and even Amateur Radio.  Take the “Amateur Radio Parity Act 2014 (HR.4969)” for instance.  Legislators with little or no knowledge of physics, propagation, or basic communications technology will try to force the FCC into rewriting the rules regarding ham antennas on private property.  While many of us amateur radio operators consider this a good thing, considering the presence of TV antennas, satellite dishes, and even broadcast antennas on some privately-owned buildings, the average citizen has no interest in amateur radio and relegates hams into the same group as CB operators.  For many citizens outside the orbit of amateur radio, any amateur radio antenna is considered an “eyesore” that will reduce property values. I’ve seen this NIMBY (not in my backyard) attitude  on Hawaii Island where people oppose cell phone towers, while complaining about poor cell phone reception in their neighborhoods.  These people have no understanding of how communications systems operate, and, more frequently, just don’t care as long as the antenna isn’t near them.  So, when this kind of attitude results in lawsuits, amateur radio operators have to spend a lot of time educating  people who should know better.  I’m amazed that our judicial system functions as well as it does, considering the scientific ignorance that pervades daily life. Aloha de Russ (KH6JRM).

ARRL President Issues Call to Action to Gain Support for HR.4969 Amateur … – ARRL

ARRL President Issues Call to Action to Gain Support for HR.4969 Amateur …
How can Amateur Radio thrive, if more and more Americans cannot have reasonable antennas at home?


ARRL President Kay Craigie (N3KN) has made a video appeal to all amateur radio operators in the United States to support the bi-partisan HR4969, which would require the FCC to extend coverage of PRB-1 to restrictive housing and property covenants, such as HOAs and CC&Rs.  Currently, PRB-1 only applies to state and local zoning laws and ordinances.  Aloha de Russ (KH6JRM).

Marijuana grow-lights cause problems for ham-radio operators – Colorado Springs Independent

Marijuana grow-lights cause problems for ham-radio operators Colorado Springs Independent In a March 12 letter to the commission, the American Radio Relay League, the national association for amateur radio, complained that interference from grow…


Fascinating article from the “Colorado Springs Independent” about the growing interference to amateur radio and public service communications from marijuana grow lights.  The culprit is the ballast that feeds power to the lights.  These lights emit a raspy sound that”screws up amateur radio transmissions.”  On 12 March 2014, the ARRL sent the FCC a letter outlining the problem and naming the Lumatek LK1000 grow light as a prime suspect.  What the Justice Department won’t or can’t do may be solved by the FCC, which has jurisdiction over the nation’s commercial, public service, and amateur radio frequencies.  Lately, FCC inspectors have increased enforcement efforts and have levied heavy fines against people who interfer with “a licensed, legally protected practice.”  According to Colorado amateur radio operator Jim Bloodgood (KD0SFY), marijuana grow lights have the potential to disrupt emergency communications during natural or man-made disasters.  Grow lights aren’t the only culprits in the rapidly expanding radio environment.  Garage door openers, remote controls, personal computers, Wi-Fi routers, and other electronic devices contribute their own rf “hash”.  Our electronic environment is rapidly becoming “polluted”.  Aloha de Russ (KH6JRM).

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