File this one under the "It's A Day Late and A Dollar Short". The National Association of Broadcasters has announced a campaign aimed at getting legislation that would require mobile devices to have terrestrial radio tuners built in. This, in theory would allow cell phone users to tune into local AM/FM radio stations. The cell industry balked at the idea, stating that they did not want to be mandated into integrating such capabilities.
With the advent and wide acceptance of smart phones, most content mobile device users would want to access is readily available without the costly implementation of terrestrial tuners. The NAB says that such a feature could provide "life saving" information, and that consumers want it. They use a September 2010 Harris Media poll to back up their claim. One has to wonder with millions shifting to smart-phones whether that data would be the same today.
The more likely situation is that local radio is feeling the pinch of consumers accessing content in other ways. The fact of the matter is that on many smart-phones users can already access AM and FM channels through their respective web feeds. Internet streaming costs money. Local radio is also likely seeking an ability to get to consumers in any way possible to avoid paying those fees.
The legislation begs the question....Where does this all stop? Will tablets need to have tuners? Will a child's Nintendo GameBoy need a tuner? Why must we have a law to determine what is good for consumers? The fact of the matter is that mandated tuners simply seem like a dictatorship. Cell companies already offer some models with tuners, so it is not like a consumer who really wants this capability is left unattended.
The NAB has launched a website where you can learn more. "People deserve all available means to stay safe in times of crisis, and radio stations can provide critical lifesaving information even when cellular service is disrupted," said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. "This campaign will help listeners find radio-enabled mobile devices so they may receive up-to-the-minute emergency information even on the go."
The campaign coincides with a letter Smith sent members of Congress today urging them not to support the Creativity and Innovation Resolution, which opposes manufacturers' inclusion of radio broadcast tuners in wireless devices. The letter highlights the important role radio stations can play in providing life-saving information during emergencies when cell phone service is unavailable, such as during this weekend's storm that sparked tornadoes in several states.