Friday, January 11, 2008

News Item, 1-11-08, Amateur Radio Newsline

Amateur Radio Newsline Report 1587


A follow-up to our story a few weeks ago regarding the insertion of an unwanted space in some ham radio license plates by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. It appears that the D-M-V is going to hold its ground and not fix what hams consider a problem with the way their call letters are displayed on license plates. That’s because the agency says it is that way to assist law enforcement.

Amateur Radio Newsline's Bruce Tennant, K6PZW, reports:--As previously reported, Cliff Cheng, WW6CC, was the first to bring the matter to the public eye. This, after he applied for ham radio plates only to have them read WW6 space CC. Soon other hams were up in arms as they too received plates with an unwanted space between letters of their calls and some went as far as filing complaints with the D-M-V.

Now, in response Mario Balbani, who is the Program Manager for Registration Policy Development has responded to those complaining. In letters Balbani essentially says that while the FCC may issue a ham operator his or her callsign the Department of Motor Vehicles can decide how it will be displayed on plates his agency issues. Balbani says that the Department of Motor Vehicles has been issuing ham radio call letter license plates since 1953 when the statute was first enacted. The placement or spacing of letters and numbers composed of the ham radio license was originally determined by the FCC. Although the department is required by law to issue license plates with specific call letters, spacing is not addressed in the statute and the department can exercise its administrative authority in this regard.Balbani says that the D-M-V adopted the new spacing policy in order for law enforcement to differentiate between ham radio license plates and other series license plates. He say that unlike other states, California does not distinguish the ham radio license plates with a symbol or wording indicating the plates special purpose.

Balbani says that back in April 2007, it was brought to the D-M-V's attention that the ham radio license plates were being ordered and issued without the proper spacing. By proper spacing we assume he means the blank space inserted someplace in the call. This is because Balbani's letters says that the problem has since been corrected and those ham radio plates issued with no spaces will remain valid until the plates are lost or damaged and duplicates are requested.Balbani admits that the Department of Motor Vehicles has received several complaints regarding the spacing of ham radio license plates ordered by applicants. He say that thoughts of eliminating the spaces have been reviewed, but his agency must take into consideration the other series license plates and the distinction that ham radio license plates would no longer have. In other words, the spaces will stay,

For the Amateur Radio Newsline, I'm Bruce Tennant, K6PZW, in Los Angeles.

--California hams are far from satisfied with the Department of Motor Vehicles position on the added spaces in their callsigns. Some are working behind the scenes to find a way to force the D-M-V to return to ham radio license plates as they were before the change was made. (WW6CC, others)

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