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Unauthorized Radio Operation


Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934 prohibits the “use or operation of any apparatus for the transmission of energy or communications or signals by radio” without a license issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Thus, generally, in order to use or operate a radio station, the Communications Act requires that you first obtain a license from the FCC.

There are certain limited exceptions. For example, the FCC has provided blanket authorization to operators of Citizens Band (CB) radios, domestic ship and aircraft radios, radio control stations and certain other types of devices. This blanket authorization means that operators of these devices are not required to have individual station licenses. Operators are required to operate their devices in a manner consistent with the FCC’s operational and technical rules for these services. Failure to do so could be considered an unauthorized operation. For further information regarding operation of these devices, see the FCC’s consumer guide.


The FCC takes enforcement of unauthorized radio operations very seriously. Anyone found operating a radio station without an FCC authorization can be subject to a variety of enforcement actions, including seizure of equipment, imposition of monetary forfeitures and criminal penalties.

Filing a Complaint

If you believe that a station has violated the contest, lottery or funds solicitation rules, you can file a complaint with the FCC. There is no charge for filing a complaint. You can file your complaint using an online complaint form. You can also file your complaint with the FCC’s Consumer Center by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) for TTY; or writing to:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554

What to Include in Your Complaint

The best way to provide all the information the FCC needs to process your complaint is to complete fully the online complaint form. When you open the online complaint form, you will be asked a series of questions that will take you to the particular section of the form you need to complete. If you do not use the online complaint form, your complaint, at a minimum, should indicate:

  • your name, address, email address and phone number where you can be reached;
  • name and phone number of the company that you are complaining about and location (city and state) if the company is a cable or satellite operator;
  • station call sign (KDIU-FM or WZUE TV), radio station frequency (1020 or 88.5) or TV channel (13), and station location (city and state);
  • network, program name, and date and time of program if you are complaining about a particular program; and
  • any additional details of your complaint, including time, date and nature of the conduct or activity you are complaining about and identifying information for any companies, organizations or individuals involved.

For More Information

For information about other communications issues, visit the FCC’s Consumer website, or contact the FCC’s Consumer Center using the information provided for filing a complaint.

Print Out

Unauthorized Radio Operation Guide (pdf)

Updated: October 17, 2014

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