The Federal Communications Commission has proposed imposing
$125,000 fine on Pilot Travel Centers LLC for allegedly marketing unauthorized
radio frequency devices –specifically, transceivers labeled as Amateur Radio
Service (ARS) equipment but intended for use on both Citizens Band and amateur
According to FCC records, Pilot had been warned a number of
times about the sales of the devices.
According to a newsletter published by the Amateur Radio Relay
League, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability on Nov. 22. It asserts
that Pilot continued to market CB transceivers labeled as amateur gear despite
multiple citations and warnings. The radio league says CB transmitters must
receive FCC certification – formerly called “type acceptance.” Amateur radio
equipment does not require FCC certification.
“Commission field offices issued a total of nine citations
to Pilot’s corporate headquarters and its retail outlets warning Pilot that
future violations would subject Pilot to penalties including civil monetary
forfeitures,” the FCC said.
The commission alleges that from October 2002 until July
2004, Pilot, in 47 separate instances, offered for sale various models of
non-certificated Galaxy CB transceivers labeled as “amateur radios” that easily
could be modified for CB operation. The FCC says in some instances, Pilot
employees referred to the units as “CBs.”
Following up on complaints received between 2001 and 2003,
FCC Enforcement Bureau field agents visited 11 Pilot retail outlets in Texas,
Oregon, California and Nevada.
“At these locations, the stores displayed and offered for
sale various models of non-certified CB transceivers marketed as ARS
transmitters,” the FCC said.
According to the radio league newsletter, the FCC’s Office
of Engineering and Technology already had determined that the units could be
modified easily for CB operation and were subject to FCC certification prior to
Responding to the citations, Pilot told the FCC that all of
the radios in question were “marketed as amateur radios and, as sold, operate
on the 10-meter amateur band,” according to the radio league. Pilot contended
the units fell under Part 97 rules and didn’t require FCC certification. In
January 2002, the FCC Dallas Field Office advised Pilot that the devices
referred to in the citation had built-in design features to facilitate CB
operation and that the FCC considered them CB transmitters that fall under Part
95 rules. The FCC’s notice of apparent liability says the Dallas Field Office
received no further response from Pilot.
The FCC pointed out that it requires a grant of
certification for any Amateur Radio Service transceiver designed to be easily
user-modified to extend its operating frequency range into the Citizens Band.
The FCC said that on three days last December, FCC agents
purchased Galaxy transceivers from different Pilot retail stores. The FCC’s
Office of Engineering and Technology subsequently determined that all were
non-certificated CB transmitters under the FCC’s definition. Those sales
provided the basis for the proposed fine. Ultimately, the FCC alleged that
Pilot offered non-certificated CB transmitters for sale on 13 occasions in 2003
and 2004 “in apparent willful and repeated violation” of the Communications Act
of 1934 and FCC rules.
According to the radio leaguenewsletter, the FCC
cited its concern with “the pattern of apparent violations” in the Pilot case
and actually adjusted the base forfeiture amount upward from $91,000 to $125,000.
“We are particularly troubled that Pilot continues to
violate these rules despite receiving nine citations for marketing
non-certified CB transmitters,” the commission’s Nov. 22 notice stated.
“Pilot's continuing violations of the equipment authorization requirements
evince a pattern of intentional noncompliance with and apparent disregard for
According to the FCC’s Web site, Pilot was given until Dec.
22 to respond. The company’s options are either paying or appealing the fine.