(FCC) is taking public comment until April 7 on a proposed increase in the cost
of licensing a VHF marine radio from the current $35 fee to $105 - nearing the
price of many popular VHF radios.
"A two-way radio on a boat is an essential piece of safety equipment. We are
very concerned that boaters will choose not to have a radio on board in order
to avoid the high cost of the new fees," said Richard Schwartz, President of
the 485,000-member BOAT/U.S. "Without a radio a person cannot call for help in
an emergency, listen to weather forecasts while out on the water, or hear
another's call for help when they might be near enough to assist. These
exhorbitant fees are a clear example of government policies out of touch with
The FCC is including recreational boaters in a program that was intended for
large commercial license holders such as radio, television, cellular telephone,
and cable TV companies, licensees who use th epublic airwaves to earn profits
and who can simply pass on the cost of the fees to their customers.
Both the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board have
expressed serisou concerns about the impact on boating safety such fees will
have. Another group that sometimes assists in emergencies, amateur or "ham"
radio operators, have been granted a balnket waiver from paying the fees.
BOAT/U.S. believes that boat owners should also be given a waiver on public
The proposed fees were authorized by Congress which created the fee scheme last
year to "reimburse" the FCC for its enforcement and regulatory work as part of
the 1993 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. The new fees are $7 per year to be
collected in advance for the 10-year term of the FCC "ship's station" license.
The other fee of $35 is for processing an application form.
Because the fees originated in Congress, BOAT/U.S. is urging boaters to write
the following key members of Congress: Rep. John Dingell, Chairman, Committee
on Energy & Commerce, and Rep. Edward Markey, Chairman, Subcommittee on
Telecommunications, both c/o U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC
20515; and Sen. Ernest Hollings, Chairman, Committee on Commerce, and Sen.
Daniel Inoouye, Chairman of Subcommittee on Communications, U.S. Senate,
Washington, DC 20510. Ask each of these legislators to direct the FCC to grant
a waiver to recreational boaters.