Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Lions, Tigers and Ham, Oh My — a $22K Penalty

Even after appeal, FCC confirms that amateur radio operator must pay up for violating broadcast rules

Whether you run a full-power station or a small ham operation, “rules is rules.”

A Michigan amateur radio station operator has learned that the hard way after allegedly playing music and broadcasting animal noises on his amateur radio station.

Ham operator Michael Guernsey was handed a $22,000 fine by the FCC last year, to which he submitted an appeal; but to no avail. After reviewing his case, the FCC has not found his arguments persuasive, and confirmed the penalty.

In March 2014, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau found that Guernsey was interfering with other amateur radio operators and had failed to identify himself to other operators as required by FCC rules. As a result, the bureau issued the $22,000 levy for repeated violations.

Guernsey appealed in August of last year, saying the fine should be cancelled because bureau agents did not actually inspect his station to establish properly that it was his station causing the interference. In his response to the FCC, Guernsey contends that the source of the interference could have been any number of amateur operators who live within a quarter mile of his location. He also told the FCC he was unable to pay because of his financial situation.

The FCC responded that its agents performed close-in direction-finding to confirm that the source of interfering transmission was the address of Guernsey’s amateur station, KZ8O. Agents monitored the transmissions for 40 minutes and heard a prerecorded song and various animal noises on the frequency. Guernsey also failed to transmit his assigned call sign as required, the FCC said.

This isn’t Guernsey’s first run-in with the commission. According to the FCC in its forfeiture order, the Parchment, Mich., resident has a history of causing “repeated acts of intentional and malicious interference to other amateur radio operators,” and has been warned repeatedly in writing by the bureau that his actions violate FCC rules.

The commission gave Guernsey 30 days to submit payment.