[AMRadio] Amateur radio privileges and policy discussions


D. Chester k4kyv at charter.net
Tue Mar 23 21:43:40 EDT 2010


Regarding the inappropriate political comments and topics that have appeared 
on this board recently, one thing we have to keep in mind that amateur radio 
is inexorably attached to government policy and that means, to a large 
degree, politics.  Since we are directly governed by the Communications Act 
and federal regulations, amateur radio is probably involved with federal law 
(acts of Congress) and Executive branch decisions more than any other hobby 
in existence, equally or even more so than such interests as hunting rights, 
gun ownership and flying private aircraft.



The problem we have seen here appears when people often try to subtly, or 
not so subtly, inject comments and oblique references to support their own 
political agenda or point of view, on highly controversial topics that have 
nothing remotely to do with AM or amateur radio. I read the newspaper.  I 
listen to the radio.  I follow a few politically oriented blogs on the 
internet. I even watch a little TV every now and again. The point is, I 
already hear and see enough national politics via other media on a daily 
basis, and I see no need to follow this message board to read more of the 
same. Unfortunately, the lunatic fringe of every conceivable political 
persuasion have succeeded in whipping the public into such frenzy, that many 
folks see political evil in everything imaginable, or share the delusion 
that all ills of society can be cured by blindly adhering to some 
questionable political ideology.



I think it not only desirable, but IMPERATIVE that we openly discuss 
government policy and political shenanigans in the context of amateur radio 
privileges and the status of the AM mode. Inevitably, some of this will 
relate to decisions by politicians in Washington. With the advent of 
computers and the internet, whenever something potentially affecting our 
operating privileges pops up, whether in the form of FCC proposals, 
Rulemaking Petitions submitted to the FCC, ARRL policy decisions, 
enforcement actions, acts by  large corporations or whatever, within a 
matter of hours a large portion of the amateur community will be aware of 
it.  Compare this to the pre-internet days when we had to rely on printed 
media to disseminate such information.  Often, the deadline for filing 
comments to the FCC would have already expired by the time the news first 
appeared in mainstream publications like QST and CQ. We had to depend on 
newsletters like ARRL Letter, H/R Reports, W5YI Report and The AM 
Press/Exchange for timely information.



If the AM community had not become politically involved during the FCC's 
Docket-a-Month era that ran roughly from 1974 to 1990, and had not mounted 
widespread opposition to anti-AM petitions and Dockets like 20777 and its 
ilk, there would be no AM on the amateur bands to-day. Reportedly, FCC 
officials were "shocked" at the degree of opposition to bandwidth Docket 
20777 resulting from its proposal to outlaw AM on all frequencies below 28 
mHz.



Right now, I believe our greatest threat is not that the FCC might outlaw AM 
or that commercial interests will take our HF bands away at the next WARC 
(although we must always keep our eyes open for any such indications); our 
greatest concern at the moment has to be the proliferation of cheap, poorly 
designed consumer products and other technology that unnecessarily pollutes 
the HF spectrum with buzzies and hash.  Just a few examples include BPL, the 
new digital/LED traffic signals, plasma TV's, touch lamps, HomePlug gadgets, 
and whatever new product came on the market this morning to spew additional 
trash in our bands.  EACH OF THESE ISSUES RELATES TO POLITICAL DECISIONS 
MADE BY THE THREE BRANCHES OF OUR FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, aka 
"politics".



If discussions on the AM and amateur radio message boards, email reflectors 
and over the air is to be limited to technical topics, equipment exchanges 
and trivial chit-chat because everyone is fearful of  becoming too 
"political", we might just as well kiss AM and amateur radio as we know it 
good-bye now, while the kissing is good. Regarding this forum, I suggest 
laying off the snide remarks, wisecracks and end-run non-radio related 
political statements that have lately been slipping into numerous threads 
and topics, without hesitating to bring up any subject that might involve 
our radio operation.



For those who enjoy openly discussing politics with fellow amateur radio 
operators, I suggest QRZ.com. They have a closely moderated forum called 
"Political Junkies" specifically designed to allow political talk while 
keeping it off their other, amateur radio related forums. In order to post 
messages, one must sign up separately from the other forums and explain to 
the satisfaction of the moderators why you want to join, and those who 
violate prescribed policy may find themselves banned from PJ even though 
they may still be allowed to participate in the other QRZ.com forums.  Go to 
http://forums.qrz.com/forumdisplay.php?f=34



Don k4kyv

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