5 Unforgettable FCC Fines in Amateur Radio History

This article delves into the realm of amateur radio, spotlighting five notable instances where the FCC imposed significant fines on operators for violations ranging from unauthorized transmissions to intentional interference.



3/5/20241 min read

Ham radio operators are governed by strict regulations to ensure the airwaves remain open and free from interference. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) oversees these regulations in the United States and has the authority to issue fines for violations. Below are five notable cases where ham radio operators faced significant fines for various infractions.

  1. Terry L. VanVolkenburg, KC5RF, from Cocoa, Florida, was fined $25,000 for operating an unlicensed radio transmitter and causing interference with licensed communications. His actions not only broke the law but also endangered public safety by interfering with the communications of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Department​​. (source)

  1. Philip Beaudet, N6PJB, from Burney, California, faced a $24,000 fine for playing recordings and failing to provide his call sign during amateur radio nets. His repeated interference with the Western Amateur Radio Friendship Association's net sessions exemplifies the importance of following operational guidelines​​. (source)

  1. Michael Guernsey, KZ80, in Michigan, was fined $22,000 for "frequency hogging" and intentionally interfering with other amateur radio operators. His misuse of the 14.313 MHz band and failure to identify himself properly demonstrate the FCC's crackdown on disruptive behaviors​​. (source)

  1. Jerry W. Materne, KC5CSG, from Lake Charles, Louisiana, received an $18,000 fine for causing intentional interference and failing to provide station identification. Materne's disruption of local ham radio repeaters, including during emergency communications, highlights the critical need for operational compliance​​. (source)

  1. Winston A. Tulloch, KC2ALN, faced a $25,000 fine for operating an unlicensed FM station in Paterson, New Jersey. This case underscores the broader efforts of the FCC to shut down pirate broadcasters across the United States, ensuring that all broadcasters are properly licensed and adhere to regulations​​. (source)

These cases illustrate the range of violations and the seriousness with which the FCC approaches enforcement of regulations in the amateur radio community. From interfering with emergency operations to unauthorized broadcasting and operational misconduct, these fines serve as a reminder of the importance of compliance with FCC rules to maintain the integrity and utility of the amateur radio service.