Emergency or not: Unauthorized broadcasting is still illegal

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and changes in our daily life activities, we are starting to see discussions and actual situations where unauthorized transmitters are being used, especially for makeshift "drive-in churches". 

It is our responsibility to advise that despite the stuff you may read on the internet, there is no specific rule or law that allows unauthorized broadcast transmitter use in a state of emergency without prior authorization from the FCC.  47 USC §301 still applies and violators are subject to fines and other sanctions in accordance with FCC guidelines enhanced by the recently passed PIRATE Act. 

Any person who engages in such unauthorized broadcasting does so at their own risk. 

It is also important to remember that any individual or organization that receives a Notice of Unlicensed Operation (NOUO) from the FCC, unless it is subsequently cancelled, will be automatically ineligible to be the party of a license for a LPFM broadcast station. (see Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2001, Pub. L. 106-553, 114 Stat. 2762A-111, at §632(a)(2); see also 47 CFR §73.854).  

JUST BECAUSE AMAZON.COM OR EBAY SELLS A TRANSMITTER DOES NOT MEAN THAT IT IS LEGAL IN THE UNITED STATES.  Prior to the use of a transmitter, please check the unit for a "FCC ID" label and verify the certification at http://fcc.gov/eas to assure that the certification ID matches the device that it is on.  Device must be certified for Part 15.  Devices certified for Part 73 and/or 74 require appropriate licensing to operate.  

In some situations, placement of a certified Part 15 transmitter (AM or FM) at an outside location during services may properly cover a parking lot.  Frequency selection should take co- and first-adjacent channels (AM or FM) into consideration.  Streaming to mobile devices on YouTube or Facebook Live would be the most legal option (just be careful of copyrighted music).

For more information on unlicensed devices see

For information on the local radio channels in a particular area (to assist with Part 15 frequency selection), see

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ABOUT REC NETWORKS: REC Networks is an unincorporated entity owned and operated by Michelle Bradley.  Since 1984, REC has been providing information, entertainment and support which today, includes regulatory advocacy related to spectrum access, especially for community broadcasting.  REC also provides programming for J1 Radio, a Canada-based cluster of internet radio stations providing Japanese-language entertainment world-wide and one English-language network, REC-FM.

Michelle Bradley
202 621-2355