Licence Conditions: The “Broadcast” Clause

This is to be the first of three posts, designed to stimulate debate and comment. The background to this is that following a recent Monday Night Net, one of our silent followers got in touch to say that a message on the net that was promoting the local repeater group, was a “broadcast” and therefore not allowed.

There’s since been some debate on the subject, and clearly the rules are open to different interpretations. So, let’s take a look…

The “Broadcast” clause

Obviously, Ofcom doesn’t want the amateur bands to be used for one-to-many broadcasting – and so there are rules in place – taking a review of these rules is interesting, and has been the cause of some debate of late. Here’s my take – feel free to disagree!.

A look at the old BR68 amateur radio licence shows that the following clause was in place:

1(9) "The Licensee shall not transmit such material as music, public broadcasts or speeches."

I looked for the same clause in the current licence, but the words “music”, “broadcast” and “speech” doesn’t appear. It is (or should be) taught at Foundation though, as per the RCF Foundation syllabus:

2c.4 Candidates need to...  "Recall that broadcasting is not permitted"

The “broadcast” element now seems to be covered in the following two sections:

11(2) "The Licensee shall only address Messages to other amateurs" 

Note the plural here – the “you can only address one amateur” opinion held by some doesn’t seem to appear in the licence.

11(4) The Licensee shall not send Messages (whether directly or for onwards transmission by another station) for general reception other than: (a) initial calls; or (b) to groups or networks (“nets”) of three or more Amateurs as long as communication is first established separately with at least one Amateur in any such group

By combining the two, we see that messages for general reception by more than one amateurs are permitted on a net. Let’s take some examples:

Example 1: “M6ZYX calling CQ” ….

  • A “broadcast”, but fine as it’s an initial call and exempted under the second clause.

Example 2: “If XYL is listening, put kettle on, I’m 5 mins away”

  • If the XYL in question is not licensed, this is not allowed under 11(2)
  • If the  XYL is licensed and an established net is in progress, it could be argued that this is allowed.

Workaround: “M0ABC, this is M6XYZ… I’ll be home in 5 minutes and I’m hoping the wife’s got the kettle on”

Example 3: “Thanks to the local repeater group for letting us use the repeater for the net”

  • This should be allowable. Members of repeater group are amateurs. Net participants are amateurs. Communication with one amateur on the net has been made. No breach
  • However – Saying this at the end of a net is more questionable. If there are less than three people on a net, then it’s not a net.
    • What constitutes the end of a net? Everyone but the chair signing off? Not everyone does – some go briefly QRT, then return. My take is the net is finished when a) the majority of the people on the net have officially signed off, leaving two or less remaining, and b) when the net controller says so.

This is a courtesy message intended for participants of the net, and as an acknowledgement of the services of the local repeater group. Essex Ham includes an acknowledgement of this during its weekly net, whilst more than one other amateur is checked into the running order. Personally, I see no breach – this is a message for general reception to a group, and was surprised that someone out there chose to take offence.

Example 4: “Hello to all of our SWLs out there”

(Let’s leave aside that a 2 metre FM net is not on shortwave.)

  • If you assume that an SWL is an unlicensed shortwave listener, then this is not allowed under the first clause.

However, it is a courtesy to thank those who’ve taken part in the net. In the case of the Essex Ham Net, we have a live chatroom, where amateurs, those in training and some unlicensed listeners can contribute, but they don’t necessarily key up and chat. They are participants in the discussion, and as a courtesy, it’s nice to acknowledge them.

Workaround: It might be better to thank “people” for listening. If you are on a net, then other people are listening – there may be unlicensed listeners, there are almost certainly other amateurs listening, but the participants of the net have also been listening. By being non-specific about the licence-level of a listener, you’re not in breach of either clause.

Example 5: Giving directions to amateurs travelling to a club night

Often an interesting question on some Foundation training courses!

  • If on an established net, then this arguably permissible as it is a message for general reception to a group of amateurs


There we go – that’s my personal perspective on the “Broadcast” clause. Agree? Disagree? Please have your say in the box below…

Next up – Part 2, looking at the rules around advertising, promotion and commercial use: Licence Conditions: The Commercial / Advertising Clause

Links to all three parts:



  1. 2e0emo 27 May 2014 Reply
  2. A licenced UK amateur 27 May 2014 Reply
  3. Rob 27 May 2014 Reply
  4. Jim 27 May 2014 Reply
  5. Pete M0PSXAuthor 27 May 2014 Reply
  6. Les 27 May 2014 Reply
    • Pete M0PSXAuthor 27 May 2014 Reply

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