Home › Forums › temp › Trouble with city regulations on Part 15 AM transmitters? › City Reg’s Re: Part 15 transmitters/antennas
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As Neil has already pointed out, this topic has been thrown about by “experts” for decades. Covenant and Restriction agreements have, at times, been assumed as “law” by many county & municipal building and planning departments. However, federal case law and congressional action over the past 20+ years has established precedent with “legal” radio transmitters and antennas. Congress passed, in the ’80’s, a resolution limiting the authority of local and state governments over the operation of legally operating and FCC authorized transmitters and associated antenna systems.
The thinking behind “PRB-1” was that state and local governments do NOT have the authority to govern the public trust or use of public radio spectrum. That authority lies with the FCC. Even though PRB-1 deals only with amateur radio, other laws were passed in subsequent congressional action and signed into law concerning the allowance of TVRO dishes and “intentional radiators” in residential areas.
Local jurisdictions think that just because they have a say in the placement and use of cell phone towers, they can make law regarding all other radio service matters. These local government agencies do NOT have this authority. Congress and the FCC have agreed for years this broad stroke approach by state and local government is not a “states rights” local government issue because the Communications Act of 1934 establishes radio spectrum as a public trust and is regulated and governed exclusively by the federal government. That basic communications law has been court tested for decades and has even stood up to the scrutiny of the Supreme Court.
The bottom line, local governments can make and enforce land use regulations concerning the esthetic impact of radio transmitting facilities (antennas). Everything else is regulated and controlled by the FCC. Check to see if your state has passed a statewide version of PRB-1. If so, precedent may be on your side. Local governments cannot limit the use of transmitting equipment authorized by the FCC. The only radio service to my knowledge, the FCC has asked local government to help “police”, is citizens band radio. Local authorities do have the authority to cite operators and confiscate equipment for scofflaws in the CB service.
It could be argued, that even though Part 15 operations are not licensed, they ARE authorized by the federal government for a specific purpose. If local governments will not allow Part 15 broadcasting, then they must equally apply the same regulations to 2.4 Ghz WiFi and BPL installations. I would love to see them just try that. The money and lawyers that would come at them would be impressive, not to mention the FCC.
I don’t know if any of this is helpful. I worked as a lobbyist in Oregon to get a statewide PRB-1 signed into law. And I have worked to protect radio service statewide from the assualt of local governments. It has been interesting, to say the least. Operate a “legal” station and keep records and documentation of everything you do. You may need it someday to keep your station on the air.
Marshall Johnson, Sr.
Rhema Radio – The Word In Worship