The Radio Act of 1912 ("Act to regulate radio communications") was a federal law that required all seafaring vessels to maintain 24-hour radio watch and keep in contact with nearby ships and coastal radio stations. Part of the impetus for the Act's passage was the sinking of the RMS Titanic. Other factors included an ongoing conflict between amateur radio operators and the U.S. Navy and private corporations, that included the amateurs forging naval messages and issuing fake distress calls.
The Wireless Ship Act of 1910 was seen as too weak to address the problems. The U.S. Congress considered six different proposals for replacing it in the period between 1910 and 1912, eventually enacting the 1912 Act. The 1912 Act gave the authority to assign usage rights (licenses) to the Secretary of the Department of Commerce and Labor. Licensing was necessary in part because, as radio communications grew, it became crucial that frequencies be reserved for specific uses or users, to minimize interference among wireless transmissions.
The Act required all amateur radio operators to be licensed and prohibited them from transmitting over the main commercial and military wavelengths. The task of implementing the Act was the responsibility of the Secretary of Commerce and Labor. The Department of Commerce and Labor was empowered to impose fines and to revoke the licences of those amateur radio operators who violated the Act.
- ↑ Hearings Before a Subcomm. of the Comm. on Commerce, 62nd Cong., 2nd Sess., pursuant to S. Res. 283, "Directing the Committee on Commerce to Investigate the Cause Leading to the Wreck of the White Star Liner 'Titanic,'" testimony of Guglielmo Marconi, et al.
- ↑ Hugh Richard Slotten, Radio and Television Regulation: Broadcast Technology in the United States (1920-1960) 6-8 (2000).
- ↑ Pub. L. No. 264, "License."
- ↑ Slotten, supra; Michael C. Keith, The Radio Station: Broadcast, Satellite & Internet 35 (2007).
- Text of 1912 Act, "An Act to regulate radio communication", approved August 13, 1912.
- One-page historical document giving overview of passage of bill through congress.
- Federal Radio Commission Archives.
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