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Author Mark Twain is quoted to say, “History does not repeat itself, it rhymes.” In the 1920’s, as America was getting a handle on the potential of a new communications medium called radio broadcasting, the federal government was called upon to protect the very limited resource called spectrum. It took Congress and the President over a decade to agree on the Communications Act of 1934. This act of law created the Federal Communications Commission and made radio spectrum a public trust administered by the federal government. In doing so, radio spectrum regulation did not develop as a component of a democratic process. The FCC began to develop and execute a long list of rules, regulations and administrative laws by wrote, some continuing to this day.
The very same challenges faced in the 1920’s and ’30’s exist today. Namely the scarcity of available radio spectrum. Neil is correct in his assessment of the outcome of frequency coordination efforts here is this country with commercial and amateur operators alike. And, yes, not everybody gets to be happy when another party decides who plays and who doesn’t.
I was the chairman of the Oregon Region Relay Council, a nationally recognized frequency coordination organization. Frequency coordination requires cooperation and teamwork to be successful. And when certain individuals will not compromise, the end result is frustration with the process and the outcome.
Neil brings up another good point. Frequency coordination without considerable science to back it up becomes a political process. Those who are good at politics get what they want, those who have lesser political skills oft times go away disatisfied. So, clubs and groups of people who have successfully discovered a common vision and goal become the “haves” where the lone operators become the “have-nots”.
Once again, broadcasters have been here before. The philosopher Santana is quoted as saying, “Those who forget history are destined to repeat it.” Part 15 broadcasting does need a clearer set of operating rules. Currently, regulating Part 15 broadcasting may well be like herding cats. There are lots of independent thinkers and doers, and darned few team players and consensus builders. Team players and consensus builders are the folks who change the regulatory landscape. When they win, we win. Self regulation could work if Part 15 operators would understand what is at stake. We must agree who will be responsible for decision making and the scope of the process as well as the outcome.
Where as “food fights” are unpleasant and unseemly, it is how we move forward in this country. And for over 200 years food fights have served us well. It would seem appropriate that the Boston Tea party was in fact, a food fight.
Marshall Johnson, Sr.
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