OCRA Board of Directors – Repeater Code of Conduct

Approved by the Orange County Board of Directors, April 13th 2021 Meeting


Orange County Radio Amateurs, Inc has over the years been very fortunate regarding licensed amateur transmissions on its repeaters, especially the 442.150 repeater with its wide regional coverage. The vast majority of the licensed operators using OCRA repeaters set an exemplary example of ham radio communications.

OCRA repeaters are one of the more visible assets of the club and are “G-Rated” 24 hours a day. We want non-hams to know that Amateur Radio is an interesting hobby and a good group of people to know.

Incidents occurring in 2020 have necessitated closing the repeater as required by FCC regulations to prevent radio transmissions in violation of FCC & other Federal Laws. When the repeater must be closed, it will be available only for scheduled nets or when sufficient control operators are scheduled to monitor transmissions and shut it down upon further violations. When these situations occur, status information will be posted on the OCRA website home page. Information regarding violations can be sent via this link to the OCRA Board of Directors .

The acceptable use policy below is drawn from policies published by a number of other amateur radio clubs who have faced similar situations on their repeaters.

Illegal Practices

    1. Violations of FCC Regulations and the Federal Decency Act for Radio Transmissions e.g. profanity, racial, ethnic derogatory comments require the repeater to be immediately shut down.
    2. Repeater users shall not make any transmissions suggesting, advising, or otherwise recommending any illegal activity or “messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning. read more…
    3. Unidentified transmissions including “kerchunking” are not allowed per FCC regulations. If you need to test your radio, just say your call sign and the repeater will respond with the courtesy tone. read more…
    4. Dealing with illegal interference. If the person is unlicensed, it is against FCC regulations to communicate with them. It is best to not acknowledge or let the interferer know the effect their transmissions may cause. To do so only feeds the “attention seeking” of the individual causing the interference. read more… read more…
    5. Prohibited Transmissions (Part 97.113 Sections 2 & 3) No amateur station shall transmit communications for hire or for material compensation, direct or indirect, paid or promised. See FCC Section 97.113 for further details. An amateur operator may notify other amateur operators of the availability for sale or trade of apparatus normally used in an amateur station, provided that such activity is not conducted on a regular basis.
    6. Prohibited Transmissions per 47 CFR 97.113 (Recommend Review of 97.113 in its entirety)

In brief:

    • Rebroadcasting law enforcement or public safety radio transmissions at any time is not permitted. No station shall retransmit programs or signals emanating from any type of radio station other than an amateur station (with limited exceptions in 97.113)
    • Retransmissions must be for the exclusive use of amateur radio operators and may not be conducted on a regular basis, but only occasionally, as an incident of normal amateur radio communications.

Best Practices in Communications, Common Courtesy, Use of Repeater as a Shared Resource

  1. Repeaters are a shared resource & require cooperation in its use. Be attentive to the amount of time you use the repeater to allow time for others. Be a considerate operator.
  2. Long winded, reoccurring conversations by the same users or, conversations in poor judgement have led to:
    1. Illegal interfering transmissions from others tired of hearing an individual on the repeater.
    2. Others to stop using or listening to the repeater.
  3. Using the repeater as a platform for soap boxing is not allowed. Soap boxing is when a user carries on a conversation on the repeater that is a thinly disguised broadcast. The subject is generally to “put down” an institution, group, or individual over as wide as possible audience.

How to sound like a pro when operating on a repeater. https://rmrl.org/dl/operating_on_a_repeater.pdf

Enforcement Pathways include the following:

  1. First Warning: Verbal reminder (not over the air), email, phone call.
  2. Written Warning: Formal Warning from the Board of Directors and placed under routine moderation by designated repeater Control Operators.
  3. Continued Violation after Written Warning. Individuals may be formally banned by the Board of Directors. Attempts to use the repeater for other than bona fide emergencies after being banned will lead to a filing for enforcement action by the FCC.

Repeater transmissions may be recorded at any time for the express purpose of diagnosing technical problems, for minutes of official club meetings and for gathering evidence of FCC rule & code of conduct violations for review by the OCRA Board of Directors and submission to the appropriate Federal agency for enforcement action.

The FCC and SERA (South Eastern Repeater Association) suggest the use of recordings for reporting violations. Re: fcc.gov quote:

When filing a complaint….. include a recording or transcript of a broadcast when possible, though any documentation you provide becomes part of the FCC’s records and may not be returned”

Reference Quotes from FCC Enforcement Action

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the Federal Communications Commission can prohibit a certain type of conversation over a particular frequency where the alternative would be to deny many intended users any access to the frequency. Finally, the court held that the prohibitions in Section 97.113 are reasonable exercises of the Commission’s authority to “©lassify radio stations” and to “[p]rescribe the nature of the service to be rendered by each class of licensed stations and each station within any class. (paragraph 46) ….“It is well-established that regulation of radio in general does not violate the First Amendment or Section 326, 33 and courts have made clear this conclusion.” (paragraph 12) read more…

Reference Sources for OCRA Acceptable Use Policy.

W7ARA Arizona Repeater Association

WB4GBI Repeater System – Tennessee

AA5RO Alamo Repeater Association

WB4GBI Acceptable Use Policy (PDF file)

KB5UJM Repeater Code of Conduct

K9WZ Repeater.org

Escondido Amateur Radio Society Rules of Conduct

Rocky Mountain Radio League

Google Search – Amateur Radio Repeater Code of Conduct

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations – FCC Part 97 – Amateur Radio

Telecommunications Act of 1996 – Obscene, Indecent, Profane Language

FCC – Amateur Communications & Operations FAQ

FCC EDOCS – Amateur Proceedings, Decisions, Enforcement Action

FCC – Interception and Divulgence of Radio Communications

Radio Television Digital News Association (Rules regarding re-broadcasting of Police Scanner Traffic