The CBC had a story on the news this morning about Jayhaed Saadé, a kid in Greely who has set up an unlicensed radio station broadcasting out of his parents’ restaurant on 91.9 MHz. Industry Canada has told him to stop broadcasting immediately. The laws on this sort of thing are very clear and the penalties include fines of up to $5000 and even jail time. Predictably, a lot of people have made comments supporting the Saadé and encouraging him to continue broadcasting even without a license, but at the same time there are also people saying that ignorance of the law is no excuse and that he should stop broadcasting, at least until he obtains a license. (According to the story, Saadé didn’t know he needed a license and has said he’ll apply for one, but that he “can’t shut off the station”.)
It’s a low-power station and he’s a kid, so it’s no big deal, right?
Wrong…The big deal is that commecial broadcast stations have their frequencies allocated in a way the ensures they don’t conflict with other stations in the area and any other users of the RF spectrum. 91.9 MHz is only 400 kHz away from CBC Radio 1 (91.5 MHz), so he could in fact be causing some local interference. Commercial transmitters are designed to prevent spurious transmissions on other frequencies. Harmoics can occur at multiples of the frequency above and below the main frequency and they can interfere with legitimate users near the harmonic frequencies. For 91.9 MHz, the first harmonic is at 183.8 MHz , which is smack in the middle of VHF television channel 8, so it’s entirely possible that he’s interfering with this signal. The second harmonic, 367.6 MHz, doesn’t appear to be near any other spectrum users in Ottawa, while the third harmonic, 735.2 MHz, is almost exactly aligned with another user on 735.25 MHz, though unless it’s a really poorly designed transmitter, it’s unlikely it would be a huge problem there. (You can browse Industry Canada’s spectrum database on their website.)
And, given his proximity to the airport (Greely is almost directly under the approach for runway 32), there are chances that he could be interfering with their operations, too, as happened in Florida not too long ago.
The fact that he’s come to the attention of Industry Canada probably means that someone complained, which means he’s likely interfering with someone.
Should he be fined? Not if he stops broadcasting, but if he continues then he should. If he does continue, I wouldn’t be surprised if Industry Canada confiscated the unlicensed transmitter.
He says he’s going to apply for a license. I’m not sure what exactly is involved in getting a low-power broadcast license, but he probably needs to read RIC 40: FAQs on Low Power FM Broadcasting and the Broadcasting Procedures and Rules, particularly Parts 1 and 3. It seems daunting, but who knows… maybe he’ll qualify.
But if he wants to use radios, he should look into becoming a licensed amateur radio operator instead.