FCC Looks to Revise, Clarify Vanity Call Sign Rules

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ARRL Bulletin 35 ARLB035
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT November 30, 2009
To all radio amateurs

SB QST ARL ARLB035
ARLB035 FCC Looks to Revise, Clarify Vanity Call Sign Rules

On Wednesday, November 25, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) — WT Docket No. 09-209 — seeking to amend the Commission’s Amateur Radio Service rules to clarify certain rules and codify existing procedures governing the vanity call sign system, as well as revise certain rules applicable to club stations.

According to the FCC, almost 80,000 licensees have replaced their sequentially issued Amateur Radio call signs with a vanity call sign since the program began in 1996. When the program began, the Commission established what they called “the broad outlines” of the vanity call sign system, concluding that call signs generally should not be available for reassignment for two years following the death of a licensee, or expiration or termination of the license for that call sign. In doing so, the Commission made exceptions for former holders of the call sign, close relatives of a deceased former holder and club stations of which a deceased former holder was a member.

The Commission did not, however, specify all of the procedures governing the vanity call sign system, but indicated that the procedures “would be set out in the Public Notices announcing ‘starting gates’ for the groups receiving initial priority and that the procedures would be adjusted from gate to gate as experience dictated.” The procedures announced in the Public Notices announcing the gates are still in effect, but they are not set forth in the Commission’s Rules.

The NPRM states that the FCC “now believe[s] that certain provisions should be codified in our rules, and others added, so that the vanity call sign system will be fair, equitable and transparent to all amateur service licensees. The Commission also decided in the Vanity Report and Order [issued in 1996] to resume issuing new club station licenses. We believe that certain rule changes to the club station licensing rules may be appropriate.”

Further information can be found on the Web.
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