From the Clipboard of the Editor
Here are a few things heard on the club repeaters:
• A ham starts transmitting on an idle
repeater to announce that there is a traffic
tie-up on southbound I-15 at 7200 South.
• A ham in QSO announces that he is
broadcasting from Farmington.
• Someone makes a single transmission out
of the blue announcing a political position
and why he thinks it is the “correct” one.
• A ham announces to his unlicensed wife
that he expects to be home within ten
What do these situations have in common? In each
case the operator is apparently unaware of rule
97.113(b) which states in part:
An amateur station shall not engage
in any form of broadcasting, nor may
an amateur station transmit one-way
communications except as
specifically provided in these rules;
For two-way communication, the rules let us do
pretty much anything we would like, provided it is
not specifically prohibited. But for one-way
communication it’s the other way around: we can
only make kinds of transmissions that are
specifically allowed. These include transmissions
required to establish two-way communication (e.g.
calling CQ or calling another station), short tests,
code practice, net operation where everyone gets a
chance to transmit, beacon operation, and remote
We need to be especially careful when we decide
to make transmissions to no one in particular. If it
is not one of the one-way communications
specifically allowed, we need either to abandon
the idea or figure out a legal way to do it.
For someone wanting to let folks know of a traffic
tie-up, there is a simple solution. Just say
“Is there anyone on frequency interested in traffic
conditions on I-15 near 7200 South?”
That’s perfectly legal as a transmission necessary
to establish two-way communications. If someone
answers, then you can give out the information as
part of a genuine two-way QSO. If no one
responds, then there’s no reason to continue. If no
hams are listening, then you’re transmitting to the
general public, an activity called “broadcasting”
that is specifically outlawed.
I imagine that if an FCC monitor heard a ham in a
two-way QSO say that he was “broadcasting,” he
would probably be able to figure out that it was a
slip of the tongue, or a statement from someone
that didn’t understand that there is a very specific
FCC definition of “broadcasting.” Still, it probably
isn’t a good idea to make a practice of announcing
on the air that we’re doing something that is
specifically against the rules!
Announcing a political opinion or a sports score
without being in a QSO is just something we’re
not allowed to do. Sending messages to non-hams
is another no-no.
A one-way communication that we are allowed is
something called “bulletins.” This is the rule that
makes W1AW bulletin transmissions legal as well
as features like Newsline. However, these really
need to be of specific interest to radio amateurs;
otherwise, it’s assumed they must be directed to
the general public and are therefore broadcasting.
If you’ve never read our rules (FCC Part 97), you
really should. To make it easy, the Government
Printing Office has a new on-line service called
“Electronic CFR.” (In government-speak “CFR”
means “Code of Federal Regulations.”) Go to
www.ecfr.gov then select:
• Title 47 (in the pull-down)
• Parts 80-199
• Part 97
It’s all there, up-to-date, and you don’t even have
to buy a book!
© The Microvolt March 2013
Reproduced by written permission