Censorship on GMRS Repeaters?

Episode 188 of The Two Way Radio Show Podcast is out! We discuss the question of how much control a GMRS repeater operator can have over the use of their private repeater on a GMRS repeater channel. How much power does a GMRS repeater owner have to control free speech?

TWRS-188 - Censorship on GMRS Repeaters?

Show Notes:
TWRS-188 - Censorship on GMRS Repeaters? (buytwowayradios.com)

Thank you f or another good podcast. This one makes you go HMMM. I agree with the idea that the repeater owners sets the rules for his machine as long as they don’t contradict FCC regulations (not that I agree with everything FCC). As far as having an English only rule, Title 47, Chapter 1, Subchapter D, Part 95, Subpart E, in 95.1705 states: (b) Individual licensee responsibility. The holder of an individual license to operate GMRS stations is responsible at all times for the proper operation of the stations in compliance with all applicable rules in this part.

I can see an argument for English only because the licensee, being responsible at ALL Times for the proper operation of the station may not be able to understand what is being said in another language and therefore can’t insure that the applicable rules are being followed. The people speaking in another language could be selling goods or services or advertising a politician’s campaign…

It is also stated that a licensee may disallow the use of its GMRS repeater by specific persons as may be necessary to carry out its responsibilities under this section. If you can’t understand what is being said you can’t carry out the said responsibilities.

Individual licensee duties. The holder of an individual license:

(1) Shall determine specifically which individuals, including family members, are allowed to operate (i.e., exercise operational control over) its GMRS station(s) (see paragraph (c) of this section);

(2) May allow any person to use (i.e., benefit from the operation of) its GMRS repeater, or alternatively, may limit the use of its GMRS repeater to specific persons;

(3) May disallow the use of its GMRS repeater by specific persons as may be necessary to carry out its responsibilities under this section.

So, it isn’t just a case of “my repeater, my rules” it could be a “my repeater and I can be held responsible for making sure the rules set forth by the FCC are followed and I can’t do that if I don’t know what is being communicated” type of thing.

Also, the no politics or religion point is just a suggestion to maintain a polite community experience. The rule says GMRS stations must not communicate: Advertisements for a political candidate or political campaign (messages about the campaign business may be communicated).

Of course, I could be wrong about all of this…

Thanks for the podcast,


1 Like

I was told this episode could potentially “open up a can of worms”. I don’t disagree with the comments that I’ve read on social media, particularly Facebook, but so far I haven’t read any comments on there that consider there are only 8 GMRS repeater channels, and if the repeaters with certain limiting rules are stepping on or dominating over other repeaters on the same channel within their coverage area that have more open communications, can that be encroaching the rights of other GMRS operators who want to communicate on that channel?

1 Like

You are on point with all of those, especially the rule that the repeater owner is ultimately responsible for what is said on their repeater. The item that made me ponder it all wasn’t the rule about speaking English only. The repeater in question is a very powerful one that dominates the repeater channel in our area, and it is quite active, effectively canceling out other repeaters that use the same channel. Our area is becoming somewhat congested with GMRS repeaters. Since GMRS doesn’t have the many options for repeater frequencies that ham repeaters do, the question that we brought up in the latter part of show was the one we were ultimately trying to lead up to.

I can understand that issue. Would that fall under the don’t cause interference area of the rules? Kind of a problem without coordination but then again, GMRS isn’t ham nor should it be in my opinion. My area has no open GMRS repeaters. I live in a small mountain community.

I’m not sure we have “right” to repeater communications.

1 Like

Well, the point was that all of the GMRS channels must be shared by everyone and my understanding is that no one has exclusivity over any of them, including the GMRS repeater channels.

1 Like

If you have a genuine, approved gmrs radio, ctcss is intended to prevent annoying interference or conversations from people you dont want to hear being heard. So you will, as a result cause interference to other users that you can’t hear. Nobody doing anything wrong, just using what the licence allows. You might have the right to control who uses the repeaters but equally there is no right to refrain from using a channel you’re excluded from? Bit of a mess. In the uk we have some simple to use business channels with a blanket licence and simple system. You choose a frequency, and your own ctcss. No guarantee of privacy, exclusivity, or freedom from interference. In general it works

1 Like

I guess my point is that if someone goes to the trouble and expense to put up a repeater and open it up to other people but have rules they would like people to follow, I will follow the rules. I don’t consider using English in this country an unreasonable request. If the repeater owner is being unreasonable I go elsewhere. I do think we have the right to own a repeater if we want and that is where sharing the same eight channels comes into play. Different codes can be used so you don’t hear everyone else. And yes, there may be interference in those situations. All of the radios I own have a monitor function that I can use to see if the channel is in use before I key up.

1 Like

But, a repeater is private property. The owner of said private property can totally decide who uses the private property and what goes on on the repeater. The output frequency is still available for anyone to use.