Licence Conditions: Commercial & Advertising Clause

This is the second of a three-part licence clause discussion, and follows on from “Licence Conditions: Broadcast Clause”, released earlier today. In that piece, we looked at whether it is legal to make an announcement to multiple amateurs at the same time.

This and the previous article have stemmed from discussions around a complaint received here at Essex Ham, that on-air acknowledgement of the local repeater group is a) a broadcast message, and b) an advert. To further stimulate discussion, we now look at the “advert” issue:

The “Commercial” clause

It’s a common belief that “advertising” is not allowed on amateur radio – That’s not how the licence is worded! Let’s look at the wording of the relevant clause:

1(1)(b) "The licensee shall ensure that Radio equipment is only used... as a leisure activity and not for commercial purposes of any kind"

Interestingly, the original BR68 licence was more explicit, which may be what those licensed pre 2007 are referring to recall:

BR68 - 3(3) The Licensee shall:(a) have no pecuniary interest (direct or indirect) in any operations  conducted under this Licence; and (b) except as provided by sub-clauses 1(2) and (3) and except in the case of activities on behalf of a non-profit organisation established for the furtherance of amateur radio, not use the Station for business, advertisement or propaganda purposes including (without limiting the generality of the foregoing) the sending of news or messages of, or on behalf of, or for the benefit or information of, any social, political, religious or commercial organisation.

The word “advertising” is no longer present in the licence – instead, it’s clear that you cannot operate your amateur radio kit to make money. As with our last post, let’s look at some examples:

Example 1: Advertising your own business, products or services

Making a ‘widget’, promoting it on-air and selling it for profit is for “commercial purposes” – so would fall foul of this agreement – you’re making money as a result of on-air promotion

Example 2: Promoting club membership for your club

Directly or indirectly promoting the benefits of joining a club that you help to run could be seen as generating income in something in which you have a vested interest – However, as radio clubs generally not-for-profit organisations, this is probably not for “commercial purposes”, and I’d argue this is OK

Example 3: Asking people to donate to the local repeater group

A polite reminder to users of a net that the local group provide the service for free on a non-profit basis, is fine. A repeater group is not-for-profit entity, and even if you are part of the repeater group management, you’re unlikely to benefit financially.

Example 4: Advertising a product or company

Now this is an interesting one. To me, the following are all the same, and I’d argue that they are acceptable:

  • “I love my Yaesu FT-817, it’s a great rig”
  • “I bought my nice new ATU at Waters & Stanton”
  • “I’ve just been to Costa Coffee”
  • “I drive a Land Rover”

Mentioning a brand name is not the same as advertising that brand. Mentioning the word “Tesco” on-air is not a breach of any rule that I can find in the licence, and it always makes me smile to hear people skirting around brand names, or using code names such as “Golden Arches” or “The Emporium”. An advertisement would look this this:

  • “I work for Yaesu and we have 10% off the FT-817 this week”
  • “I’ve been given an ATU in return for saying how good Store X is”
  • “I have shares in Costa Coffee and encourage you to go and buy a cappuccino”
  • “Our club equipment is sponsored by Land Rover”

Again, the word “advertise” is not in the license – but “commercial purposes” is. To me that translates as “financial gain” or “as part of a business”

Should we shy away from mentioning brand names? No, I don’t think, as long as you’re not gaining from it.

Which of the following brand names have you mentioned on-air: Yaesu,, Elecraft, Google, RSGB, RadCom, iPhone, Buddipole? How does this differ from namedropping Tesco or McDonalds? Have you received financial gain from mentioning any of these on-air?

Any thoughts? Please add a comment below…

This leads nicely onto the final licence clause – Could this be the one that we break more often than we think… Licence Conditions: The Codes Clause

Links to all three parts:


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *