In a contentious issue that has been brewing for weeks, the latest salvo comes from the National Association of Broadcasters. In their longstanding battle with the record labels, the radio industry began to concede with some caveats that included lower streaming rates, as well as a mandate that would mandate FM inclusion in cell phones. The cell industry responded vehemently by stating that they had no desire to be involved in the royalty issue, and further did not feel that a mandate requiring cell makers to include FM capabilities was fair.
The National Association of Broadcasters has now issued a statement in response to a letter sent by several wireless industry representatives to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. The groups expressed their opposition to the adoption of a radio receiver in cell phones.
Commenting on the letter, NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton issued the following statement:
"Countries around the globe have added radio-enabled cell phones that are increasingly popular with consumers. The reality is that 239 million Americans tune in to free and local radio every week, and seven million new radio listeners were added just last year.
"Day in and day out, local radio stations serve as a reliable lifeline in times of crisis and weather emergencies. In an increasingly mobile society, it would be unfortunate if telco gatekeepers blocked access to public safety information offered by free and local radio."
While FM inclusion may be a good idea in theory, a mandate for inclusion is something that I am opposed to. My opposition has nothing to do with me preferring satellite radio over terrestrial radio. In my mind such a mandate goes against everything that capitalism sytands for. My opposition would be identical even if Sirius XM were trying to pull this stunt. If FM radio is such a necessary and popular feature for cell phones, more of them would join Nokia, which has a few FM enabled models.
What I feel is happening here is using "public safety" to posture for mandating a feature that will save terrestrial radio money. If cell phones have to have FM, it is more likely that people will use the tuner to listen to radio rather than the data network. Royalty rates are higher for streaming content. If terrestrial radio is successful, they would have a distinct advantage over any other audio entertainment service that is paying more in royalties to stream music to phones. There is a reason that this issue came up in the midst of negotiations with record labels about royalties.
Position - Long Sirius XM Radio