MERCY SAKES, GOOD BUDDY! The government is talking in the clear! The Federal Communications Commission is rewriting the rules for citizens band radio service - and the new draft is in plain English and easy to use. Under the plan, published in the July 20 Federal Register, a CB buyer would no longer have to struggle to find, for instance, section 95.451, "Station authorization required." He could skim down the table of contents to section 95.409., headed "Do I need a license?" and go on from there.
Putting the rules in question-and-answer form is one big innovation. Another is addressing the CB user not as an "applicant" or "licensee" but simply as "you." The rewrite also clarifies some crucial points.For example, the old section 95.509 said:
No external radio frequency power amplifier shall be used or attacjed, by connection, coupling arrangement or in any other way at any station.
The new proposal starts out:
(a)You must not use or attach in any way a linear or external radio frequency (RF) power amplifier at any CB station.
(a) You cannot get a waiver of this rule.
The theory, of course, is that if the rules are simply put, the millions of CB users will be more likely to learn and obey them. This is no minor matter. Thanks to the CB boom, the FCC is being flooded by complaints about congested channels, abuse of the air-waves, interference with other transmissions and the like. Because the agency cannot police all 40 CB channels everywhere all the time, voluntary compliance by CB'ers is essential to keep the system from being overwhelmed by its own popularity.
Some may think the FCC should take the ultimate step and talk to CB users in their own language. "You communications must not last longer than five (5) continuous minutes" might translate into, "no ratchet-jawing allowed." That would certainly be novel. However, it would also perpetuate the habit of using jargon in federal codes. CB slang is more colorful than legalese, but plain English is better than both.
In line with President Carter's policy of identifying the people responsible for rules, we applaud Erika Ziebarth and Greg Jones of the FCC's Personal Radio Division. They are on the right channel. Other regulation-writers should tune in.