After thinking about it I have decided that I may have enough information to write a little something on this subject.
A few months back I received an email from one of the newsgroups I monitor. This particular message had to do with a local radio club that had ask a couple of gentleman to quit using their repeater. It seems that these guys were discussing the two topics that get most people wound up. Yes friends we’re talking about Religion and Politics. They were ask to not discuss those topics on the repeater but continued to do so. They were finally ask to leave the repeater.
Now I watched this thread for a while and it reminds me of several instances of this kind thing that have occurred in this area over the years. This was my response to what I was reading.
“Let me start this way. It is my understanding that in the training that the Amateur Auxiliary (Official Observers) receive we are told to consider offensive and obscene using the same standards that we see in broadcast TV and Radio. By this criteria politics and religion by themselves don’t fall into that category. Don’t get me wrong politics and religion create very passionate discussions that may end up in an area that is outside of the rules but talking about those subjects is not against the rules.
Second the Plano Amateur Radio Klub doesn’t OWN the set of frequencies in question. They are not an organization that has purchased the right to the exlclusive use of those frequencies. This would be the case in other radio services but not in the amateur service. This means that any amateur radio operator with a valid license and privileges on that band my use those frequencies with out restriction unless told otherwise by the FCC.
However, The Plano Amateur Radio Klub has spent considerable money to purchase the equipment to build their repeater. The time was spent to apply for a coordinated repeater pair so they would not interfere with any other local repeaters. They probably pay some sort of rent for the space where the machine is located. They are probably required to have some sort of insurance by the property owner. This is not an inexpensive proposition. Bottom line, they own the repeater. This means that they can restrict the use of that machine, not the use of frequency.
So they say the conversation is offensive. The Supreme court has ruled that “Offensive and indecent” is that which is considered offensive and indecent by community standards. The mistake we make is thinking that this means everybody in DFW. The truth is that the community we are talking about are the repeater users at the PARK. Yes we do have a right to freedom of speech but the supreme court has also ruled that our rights end when they interfere with the rights of others (yelling “FIRE” in a crowded theater. That kind of thing.)
Now having said that. I think that the President and Trustee of Park are making a big mistake. there have been several clubs over the years that have tried to police their machine to heavily and it has back fired on them.
I once belonged to a club that turned their repeater off at midnight and back on at six in the morning because there were a dozen folks that used the repeater all night and the trustee’s didn’t want stay up all night to monitor the machine all night. It didn’t matter that the folks using the machine were all payed club members. It didn’t matter that we talked all night so we had someone to call for help if we needed it. They just didn’t want to be bothered. That kind of thinking has taken that club from fifteen hundred members to a couple of hundred. I repeat I think PARK is making a mistake.
The easiest solution is to vote the folks that are causing the problem out at the next election.
Of course what do I know
That is the advice I gave them and I even did an episode of Resonant Frequency about this because this is the kind of thing that the new guys need to know. A month later I received an email form my father KT5P. The email had a link to a letter from the FCC to an operator that was ask not to use a repeater in Georgia. The Letter is included here.
VIA CERTIFIED MAIL – RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED
February 18, 2009
Mr. Robert L. Coyle, Jr.
320 Langston Road
Perry, GA 31093
Re: Amateur Radio License WN5P
Dear Mr. Coyle:
The trustees of WA4ORT and NM4W have requested, by letter dated January
14, 2009, that you refrain from use of these repeaters. The written
request was issued as a result of your failure to follow operational rules
set forth by the licensee/control operators of the repeater systems for
their users. You were previously issued several requests to refrain from
using the systems, but failed to comply with them necessitating the formal
written request. You have failed to comply with the formal written request
as well as you were heard and recorded operating on the system more than a
dozen times by the control operator and the club president since the
January 14, 2009, letter was sent.
The Commission requires that repeaters be under the supervision of a
control operator and not only expects, but requires, that such control
operators be responsible for the proper operation of the repeater system.
Control operators may take whatever steps they deem appropriate to ensure
compliance with the repeater rules, including limiting the repeater use to
certain users, converting the repeater to a closed repeater or taking it
off the air entirely.
Please be advised that the Commission expects you to abide by the request
of the control operator that you stay off of NM4W – and any other similar
requests to cease operations on any other repeaters by any other repeater
licensees, control operators or trustees.
Use of WA4ORT or NM4W again after receipt of this letter could subject you
to severe penalties, including license revocation, monetary forfeiture
(fine) or a modification proceeding to restrict the frequencies upon which
you may operate.
Laura L. Smith
Cc: South Central Regional Director
In an email dated January 8, 2009, Mr. Mike Besemer (the control operator)
advised you that you were restricted from operating on the repeaters and,
on January 13, 2009, you were confronted while on the WA4ORT repeater by
Mr. Besemer and Mr. Scott Nolde (the club president) and again advised
that you were prohibited from using the repeaters.
Fines normally range from $7,500 to $10,000.”
That pretty much tells the story. Vague it is but that is the word from Aunt Charlie.
I hope this helps.
The letter can be found at http://www.fcc.gov/eb/AmateurActions/files/Coyle09_05_07_5106.html