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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
One Oxford Valley Building, Suite# 404
2300 E. Lincoln Highway
Langhorne, PA, 19047
June 14, 2005
Samuel C Watson
Joseph E Watson Case Number: EB-05-PA-056
Philadelphia, PA, 19143 Document Number:
NOTICE OF UNLICENSED OPERATION
The Philadelphia Office received information that an unlicensed
broadcast radio station on 106.5 MHz was allegedly operating in
Philadelphia, PA. On May 6, 2005, agents from this office
confirmed by direction finding techniques that radio signals on
the frequency 106.5 MHz were emanating from the Watson residence.
The Commission's records show that no license was issued for
operation of a broadcast station on 106.5 MHz at this location in
Radio stations must be licensed by the FCC pursuant to 47 U.S.C.
§ 301. The only exception to this licensing requirement is for
certain transmitters using or operating at a power level or mode
of operation that complies with the standards established in Part
15 of the Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 15.1 et seq. The
field strength of the signal on frequency 106.5 MHz was measured
at 4,090 microvolts per meter (µV/m) at 577 meters. This exceeds
the maximum permitted level of 250 µV/m at 3 meters for a non-
licensed device. Thus, this station was operating in violation
of 47 U.S.C. § 301.
You are hereby warned that operation of radio transmitting
equipment without a valid radio station authorization constitutes
a violation of the Federal laws cited above and could subject the
operator to severe penalties, including, but not limited to,
substantial monetary fines, in rem arrest action against the
offending radio equipment, and criminal sanctions including
imprisonment. (see 47 U.S.C. §§ 401, 501, 503 and 510).
UNLICENSED OPERATION OF THIS RADIO STATION MUST BE DISCONTINUED
You have ten (10) days from the date of this notice to respond
with any evidence that you have authority to operate granted by
the FCC. Your response should be sent to the address in the
letterhead and reference the listed case. Under the Privacy Act
of 1974, 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(3), we are informing you that the
Commission's staff will use all relevant material information
before it to determine what, if any, enforcement action is
required to ensure your compliance with FCC Rules. This will
include any information that you disclose in your reply.
You may contact this office if you have any questions.
John E. Rahtes
Excerpts from the Communications Act of 1934, As Amended
Enforcement Bureau, "Inspection Fact Sheet", July 2003 EXCERPTS FROM THE COMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 1934, AS
Section 301. License for Radio Communication or Transmission
It is the purpose of this Act, among other things, to maintain
the control of the United States over all the channels of radio
transmission; and to provide for the use of such channels, but
not the ownership thereof, by persons for limited periods of
time, under licenses granted by Federal authority, and no such
license shall be construed to create any right, beyond the terms,
conditions, and periods of the license. No person shall use or
operate any apparatus for the transmission of energy or
communications or signals by radio (a) from one place in any
State, Territory, or possession of the United States or in the
District of Columbia to another place in the same State,
Territory, possession, or District; or (b) from any State,
Territory, or possession of the United States, or from the
District of Columbia to any other State, Territory, or possession
of the United States; or (c) from any place in any State,
Territory, or possession of the United States, or in the District
of Columbia, to any place in any foreign country or to any
vessel; or (d) within any State when the effects of such use
extend beyond the borders of said State, or when interference is
caused by such use or operation with the transmission of such
energy, communications, or signals from within said State to any
place beyond its borders, or from any place beyond its borders to
any place within said State, or with the transmission or
reception of such energy, communications, or signals from and/or
to places beyond the borders of said State; or (e) upon any
vessel or aircraft of the United States (except as provided in
section 303(t); or (f) upon any other mobile stations within the
jurisdiction of the United States, except under and in accordance
with this Act and with a license in that behalf granted under the
provisions of this Act.
Section 303. General Powers of The Commission
Except as otherwise provided in this Act, the Commission from
time to time, as public convenience, interest, or necessity
(n) Have authority to inspect all radio installations
associated with stations required to be licensed by any Act, or
which the Commission by rule has authorized to operate without a
license under Section 307(e)(1), or which are subject to the
provisions of any Act, treaty, or convention binding on the
United States, to ascertain whether in construction,
installation, and operation they conform to the requirements of
the rules and regulations of the Commission, the provision of any
Act, the terms of any treaty or convention binding on the United
States and the conditions of the license or other instrument of
authorization under which they are constructed, installed, or
Section 333. Willful or Malicious Interference
No person shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause
interference to any radio communications of any station licensed
or authorized by or under this Act or operated by the United
Section 501. General Penalty
Any person who willfully and knowingly does or causes or suffers
to be done any act, matter, or thing, in this Act prohibited or
declared to be unlawful, or who willfully or knowingly omits or
fails to do any act, matter, or thing in this Act required to be
done, or willfully and knowingly causes or suffers such omission
or failure, shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished for such
offense, for which no penalty (other than a forfeiture) is
provided in this Act, by a fine of not more than $10,000 or by
imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or both; except
that any person, having been once convicted of an offense
punishable under this section, who is subsequently convicted of
violating any provision of this Act punishable under this
section, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or
by imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or both.
Section 503. Forfeitures in Cases of Rebates and Offsets
(b)(1) Any person who is determined by the Commission ... to
(B) willfully or repeatedly failed to comply with any of the
provisions of this Act or of any rule, regulation, or order
issued by the Commission under this Act or under any treaty,
convention, or other agreement to which the United States is a
party and which is binding on the United States;
shall be liable to the United States for a forfeiture
Section 510. Forfeiture of Communications Devices
(a) Any electronic, electromagnetic, radio frequency, or similar
device, or component thereof, used, sent, carried, manufactured,
assembled, possessed, offered for sale, sold or advertised with
willful and knowing intent to violate Section 301 or 302, or
rules prescribed by the Commission under such sections, may be
seized and forfeited to the United States.
Inspection FACT SHEET
The Federal Communications Commission has the authority to
inspect most radio installations. Responsibility for conducting
these inspections generally rests with the Enforcement Bureau's
Field Agents. In the course of fulfilling this responsibility,
the Agents often receive questions concerning the authority and
procedure under which they are working. The Enforcement Bureau
has assembled this general information sheet to address some of
the more commonly asked questions concerning inspections and to
clarify why and how inspections occur.
Section 303(n) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended,
(Act) gives the Federal Communications Commission the "authority
to inspect all radio installations associated with stations
required to be licensed by any Act, or which the Commission by
rule has authorized to operate without a license under section
307(e)(1), or which are subject to the provisions of any Act,
treaty, or convention binding on the United States . . ." 47
U.S.C. 303(n) Both Section 303(n) of the Act, and the Rules which
implement the Act, grant the right to inspect most radio
operations to the Commission, and by delegated authority to the
Commission's Bureaus and agents. The Enforcement Bureau conducts
inspections of radio installations as part of the Bureau's
function to "[e]nforce the Commission's Rules and Regulations."
47 CFR 0.111(a).
Both licensees and non-licensees must allow an FCC Agent to
inspect their radio equipment. Along with the privilege of
possessing a license come responsibilities such as knowing the
applicable rules, including allowing the station to be inspected.
Licensees should be aware of the Commission's right to inspect.
Equally important, FCC Agents are allowed to inspect the radio
equipment of non-licensees. Non-licensees include those
individuals or entities operating in accordance with Part 15 of
the Rules. Non-licensees also include those who should have a
license to operate their equipment but have not obtained a
license and are operating without authority.
Radio equipment is generally used in a commercial setting (e.g.,
commercial broadcast station, land mobile station, commercial
delivery service) or a residential setting (e.g., amateur,
citizen's band (CB) radio). Home-based businesses may also
operate radio stations. This fact sheet addresses inspection of
radio stations in both the commercial and residential settings.
Frequently Asked Questions Related to Residential Inspection
of Radio Equipment by the FCC
Q: Why must operators of radio frequency devices allow the FCC to
inspect their equipment?
A: The Commission must ascertain essential facts pertaining to
the operation of a station which may be vital to the resolution
of a number of questions, including interference problems
involving public safety. For this reason, the FCC must be able to
check all covered equipment that have the potential to emit radio
frequencies. Section 303(n) of the Communications Act gives the
FCC this authority.
Q: What happens if I do not allow the FCC agent to inspect my
A: Failure to allow inspection forecloses the opportunity to
resolve the problem. Thus, refusal to allow inspection is a
serious challenge to the Commission's authority to inspect radio
stations and is a violation of the Rules. Such a refusal may lead
to revocation of a license, maximum monetary forfeiture, or other
Q: The FCC Agent standing at my door does not have a search
warrant, so I don't have to let him in, right?
A: Wrong. Search warrants are needed for entry involving criminal
matters. One of the requirements as a licensee, or non-licensee
subject to the Commission's Rules, is to allow inspection of your
radio equipment by FCC personnel. Whether you operate an amateur
station or any other radio device, your authorization from the
Commission comes with the obligation to allow inspection. Even
radio stations licensed under a "blanket" rule or approval, such
as Citizen's Band (CB) Radio, are subject to the Commission's
Q: Well then, if I am a low-power broadcaster and don't have an
FCC license, they need a search warrant, right?
A: Wrong again. The FCC agents have the authority to inspect all
radio equipment; even if you do not have a license, the FCC can
still inspect your equipment. Section 303(n) of the Act gives the
FCC the right to inspect all "stations required to be licensed."
This language covers your low-power radio station. The FCC agents
are inspecting the equipment, not searching your house.
Q: Okay, I understand now why the Agent doesn't need a search
warrant, but how do I know what the Agent will do next?
A: Once you open the door, the agents should show their FCC
identification card and badge, identify themselves by name and
agency, and should state the purpose of the visit. They then
should request permission to inspect the radio station. The
agents may also ask to see records such as licenses for the
station or operator. Agents, however, should never open private
cabinets, drawers, or other private items in the search for
Q: Can the agents come to my residence at any hour of the day or
night to conduct an inspection?
A: FCC Agents inspect during the hours of operation. If you are
operating your station during late or unusual hours you cannot
use the time element as justification for refusing to permit an
inspection at that time. You cannot avoid an inspection by
electing to operate only during late or unusual hours.
Q: The FCC Agent said that I had to allow inspection of my radio
station without unnecessary delay. What does "without unnecessary
A: Immediate on-the-spot inspections are generally necessary. In
most cases, any delay can result in changed conditions of the
transmitting equipment or its operation, adversely affecting the
efficacy of the inspections. For that reason, Agents cannot
return at a later time to accommodate the operator, cannot wait
for the operator to make any adjustments to the equipment, and
cannot spend time repeating the reasons for the inspection.
Q: Why don't the FCC's agents have to make an appointment with me
to inspect my equipment?
A: The Commission has no means of determining whether a station
is being operated as licensed except through immediate on-the-
spot inspection. To establish the amount of operating power of a
station, the input power of the last radio stage of the
transmitter must be actually measured with test equipment. To
delay an inspection for the convenience of a licensee would allow
the licensee time in which to modify or restore the transmitter
to its licensed condition, thus permitting the licensee to avoid
detection. This same theory also applies in the case of whether a
station is operating with an unapproved type of transmitter.
Q: What can happen to me if the agent determines that I am using
illegal or unauthorized equipment?
A: There are several different ways that this situation can be
handled. You may volunteer to surrender the equipment to the
agent who will then destroy it under FCC procedure. If you choose
not to surrender the equipment, the FCC can bring a proceeding
against you to take the equipment. This is known as an in rem
(i.e., property) forfeiture proceeding . Additionally, if you
choose not to surrender the equipment, you can be issued a civil
monetary forfeiture penalty. See 1997 Forfeiture Policy Statement
12 FCC Rcd 17087(1997).
Q: Am I required to surrender any illegal or unauthorized
equipment to the agent?
A: No, surrender is voluntary. However, it is the best way to
avoid a large monetary forfeiture.
Q: Is the inspection procedure for various services different? Is
the procedure different for licensees and non-licensees?
A: The inspection procedure is essentially the same for all of
the services. Similarly, the inspection procedure is the same for
licensed and non-licensed stations. This is because the FCC has
the right to inspect ALL covered radio equipment.
Frequently Asked Questions for the Business Environment
Q: FCC Agents arrived to inspect the radio at my office. My boss
isn't here. Should I call my boss to be present for the
A: You may call your boss if you wish. If the company is open for
business, however, the inspection should be permitted regardless
of whether your boss is present. This is not an acceptable reason
to delay an inspection.
Q: My boss didn't tell me anyone would come by to inspect our
radio so I don't have to let the FCC inspectors in, right?
A: Wrong. The licensee is responsible for knowing the rules and
those include the FCC's right to inspect. Because the employer is
responsible for the acts of the employee, it is up to the
licensee-employer to inform its staff as to its responsibilities
concerning the operation of the radio station.
Q: I run a small daytime only AM station. Do I have to allow the
agents to inspect the station late at night?
A: The FCC inspects during hours of operation. Thus, a day time
station, by definition, should not be operating at night. If FCC
agents determine that radio signals are emitting from the daytime
station during night time hours, however, an inspection must be
allowed if requested by an FCC agent.
Q: How do I know that these are really agents from the FCC?
A: FCC Agents have a badge and credentials with their names and
the FCC seal which they will present to you when requesting your
permission to inspect. If you would like to further confirm their
identity, you may call the FCC's Crisis Management and
Communications Room in Washington, D.C., at (202)418-1122. It is
open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Q: If an agent is testing my FCC authorized equipment and the
equipment breaks or malfunctions during the tests, is the FCC
A: If the agent was negligent, you may have a claim under the
Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) to recover damages for your
property. The FCC will make the initial determination whether the
agent was negligent.
Q: Can I have my attorney present during the inspection? Can I
make the agent wait to start the inspection until my attorney is
A: You may have your attorney present during the inspection;
however, there is no constitutional right to have your attorney
present. Therefore, you may not make the agent wait until your
attorney arrives. Making the agent wait for your attorney
conflicts with the "unnecessary delay" requirement discussed