Government regulation of radio began in 1904 when President Theodore Roosevelt organized the Interdepartmental Board
of Wireless Telegraphy.
. In 1910 the Wireless Ship Act was passed. That radio was to be a regulated industry was decided in 1912, when Congress passed a Radio Act that required people to obtain a license from the government in order to operate a radio transmitter.
In 1924, Herbert Hoover, who was secretary of the Commerce Department, said that the radio industry was probably the only industry in the nation that was unanimously in favor of having itself regulated. Presumably, this was due both to the industry’s desire to put a stop to stations interfering with each others’ broadcasts and to limit the number of stations to a small enough number to lock in a profit. The Radio Act of 1927 solved the problem of broadcasting stations using the same frequency and the more powerful ones drowning out less powerful ones.
This Act also established that radio waves are public property; therefore, radio stations must be licensed by the government. It was decided, however, not to charge stations for the use of this property.
The Free-Speech Issue
Navigable waterways present no free speech problem, but radio does. Was radio to be treated like newspapers and magazines, or were broadcasters to be denied free speech? Were radio stations to be treated, like telephone companies, as common carriers, that is, anyone desiring to make use of them would have to be allowed to use them, or would they be treated like newspapers, which are under no obligation to allow all comers access to their pages? It was also established that radio stations, like newspapers, would be protected by the First Amendment
The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) is the national association for amateur radio, connecting hams around the U.S. with news, information and resources.
Report Causes Concern and Confusion in California’s Amateur Radio Ranks
By all credible and reliable accounts, the State of California has not turned its back on Amateur Radio as an emergency communication resource nor have established repeater owners been asked to remove their equipment from state-owned sites unless they pay sizeable fees. The California controversy, inflamed by a viral YouTube video, stemmed from a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) communication telling a repeater owner or group that Amateur Radio equipment would have to be removed from a state-owned site or “vault” if the owner(s) determined the cost was too great to proceed with a formal application to keep it there.
“The State of California has not made any determination we can find ‘that Ham Radio [is] no longer a benefit,’” Pacific Division Director Jim Tiemstra, K6JAT, is quoted on the Sacramento Valley Section website. “What happened is that CAL FIRE has transferred responsibility for its communications sites to its property management department. That department has the task of evaluating each site, its condition, use, and tenants. If a repeater not known to be associated with the emergency management function of a local jurisdiction is found in a CAL FIRE vault, the default action is to move it out or subject it to commercial rental rates.”
“Our contact in the California Office of Emergency Services suggests that, if any affected repeater is in any way involved with local emergency or government support activity, they should ask that agency to engage with CAL FIRE concerning the repeater. If the agency makes the case, there is a good chance that the repeater will be unaffected,” Tiemstra added.