Q. How did
the basis and purpose of Part 97 come about?
A. Section 97.1 resulted from a contentious mid-twentieth century rulemaking proposal. In Docket 9295 the FCC stated that our post-WWII amateur
service would very much benefit from, and needed a new overall plan or blueprint to provide scope and direction for the
immediate and long range development of the service.
The wording initially proposed differed from the adopted statement in three ways.
First, the principle of enhancing international goodwill did
not appear. It was subsequently incorporated before adoption.
Secondly, the principle of increasing the reservoir of trained operators, technicians
and electronics experts was conditioned as being needed for the growing radio industry in peacetime and the
vastly increased demands of both the radio industry and the military services in times of national emergency. This
time-warped text was not adopted.
Thirdly, the phrase particularly with respect to providing emergency communications was added later as if the phrase
value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service somehow excluded such
as it may sound today, any statement of purpose for the rules was very much opposed by our amateur service community organizers.
Q. What were their objections?
A. Our amateur service community organizers
claimed six points during a formal oral argument held at the FCC headquarters in Washington, DC, on June 2, 1950:
The FCC’s rule design intent for
our amateur service rules was not in consonance with the regulatory procedures of other government administrative agencies;
Amateur radio cannot be blueprinted by
radio’s progress in the past would have been hindered under such a regulatory theory;
Amateur radio needs only minimum regulation to ensure compliance with
treaties and to keep amateurs within our bands;
Although it might be a means of strengthening amateur radio in some respects, the statement was potentially
dangerous to amateur interests at international conferences;
It went beyond the FCC’s field of regulation and got into actual
management of amateur affairs.
Nevertheless, the basis and purpose statement was adopted on January 29, 1951. In 1980, when our regulators proposed in Docket
80-729 to expunge it from the rules, our amateur service community organizers did a surprising about face and argued for its
retention so as not to reduce the traditional scope of the rationale for our service.
Q. But Section 97.1 is not about the scope of the rationale for our service.
It is about our regulator’s design intent for Part 97.
A. Right. Section 97.1 says:
Basis and purpose.
The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental
purpose as expressed in the following principles:
(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary
noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.
(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven
ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.
(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing
skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art.
(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators,
technicians, and electronics experts.
Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill.
The definitive purpose for our amateur radio service, however, is codified
in Section 97.3(a)(4): A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried
out by amateurs, that is, duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary
interest. Supporting definitions are also in SEC. 3. [47 USC 153](2) of the Communications Act as well as international Radio Regulations (RR) No. 1.56 and United States Code of Federal Regulations Title 47 Section 2.1(c).
Our regulator, additionally,
has notified Congress of its expectations for our United States amateur service community to utilize our allocated spectrum as an alternative
to the commercial communications infrastructure impacted by an emergency.
For more on this topic, read What Is The Purpose of Our Amateur Service Now? BE Informed No. 1.17.
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