AM For Every Vehicle Act

AM radio (and broadcast radio in general) received strong support from Congressional representatives during this week’s hearing before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Communications and Technology subcommittee. Significant time was spent on recognizing AM radio’s important role  in the emergency communications network, both in delivering emergency alerts from the EAS system and in conveying additional information of importance to the public through news and public affairs programming (see the initial statement of J Chapman, a broadcaster based in Indiana who testified on behalf of the AM industry, and the statement of an official of the New Jersey State Police, who talked about the importance of AM in providing emergency information).  Virtually all the representatives urged car companies to retain AM in cars.  Despite this widespread support, some of the legislators expressed reluctance to adopt a legal mandate to require AM in cars, particularly representatives who have philosophical reservations about the government mandating business decisions.  That position was of course highlighted by the testimony of the representative of the automotive industry.  In the day’s discussion of these questions, some clues to the future of entertainment in the car may have emerged.

AM and public safety advocates at the hearing argued that AM radio needed to be protected.  They emphasized that AM provides the backbone of the emergency alert system due to the ability of high-powered AM stations to cover vast distances unimpeded by terrain obstacles. Even the sole representative of the automobile industry on the panel agreed that, at this point, over the air radio provides the best and most reliable source of free emergency alerts. The additional contextual information provided by news/talk AM stations was also emphasized, as stations can go beyond simply delivering a government issued emergency alert by providing in its programming the details and relevant context in any emergency.  While not central to the discussion, especially in the later parts of the hearing, there was also talk of the importance of providing a free audio service to the public for more than just emergency programming, particularly a service that often programs to underserved groups.  Protecting the investment of radio operators was also mentioned, as removing AM from cars would vastly decrease the potential audience for most of these stations. The desire to continue providing service to the public from AM stations was the broadcaster’s vision of the future of entertainment options in the car.

Continue Reading The Congressional Hearing on AM Radio – A Look at the Future of Audio Entertainment in the Car?

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee, through its Communications and Technology Subcommittee, announced that its hearing on the AM For

Though school is out for many, the FCC does not take a summer recess.  Instead, regulation continues.  While the pace of new FCC regulatory issues for broadcasters has slowed, perhaps pending the confirmation of a new Commissioner and the return of the FCC to full strength, there are still regulatory matters in June worth watching.  Some are routine, others look more to the future – but all are worth watching just the same. 

One of the routine regulatory deadlines comes on June 1, as it is the deadline for Radio and Television Station Employment Units in Arizona, District of Columbia, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming with 5 or more full-time employees to upload to their online public inspection file their Annual EEO Public File Report. A station employment unit is a station or cluster of commonly controlled stations serving the same general geographic area having at least one common employee.  For employment units with 5 or more full-time employees, the annual report covers hiring and employment outreach activities for the prior year.  A link to the uploaded report must also be included on the home page of a station’s website, if it has a website. 

Continue Reading June Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – EEO, Rulemaking Comments, AM Congressional Hearings, and More

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The Biden Administration nominated Anna Gomez to be an FCC Commissioner.  She will fill the open seat to which Gigi

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

The fear that AM radio will disappear from the car has been high on broadcasters’ lists of concerns in recent months as several car makers, including Ford, have suggested that receivers would be dropped from new models.  The issue was addressed last weekend in a front-page story in the Washington Post.  It has been highlighted by recent Congressional letters to car makers urging them to continue to include AM in cars for many reasons, including the ubiquity of the signals even in rural areas and the importance of AM for conveying emergency messages throughout the country.  Now, there is a legislative proposal to require that AM be included in cars.  Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), along with Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), and J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), Tom Kean, Jr. (NJ-07), Rob Menendez (NJ-08), Bruce Westerman (AR-04), and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03) introduced the AM for Every Vehicle Actwhich would require that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conduct a rulemaking proceeding, to be completed within one year, to mandate that AM be included in all cars sold in the US as a standard feature, without any additional cost to new car buyers.  In addition, until the effective date of the new rule, before any car could be sold without an AM radio, the seller would need to have “clear and conspicuous labeling” to inform any buyer that the car does not have an AM radio. 

The bill would also require the Government Accountability Office to study whether there was any other available technology to replicate the reach and effectiveness of AM in delivering emergency alerts to the public.  Any alternative system would have to reach 90% of the population of the US.  The study would also need to review the cost of any alternative system.  The GAO would brief the appropriate Congressional committees about the study within one year and deliver the report to Congress within 180 days of the briefing, presumably to allow Congress to reassess any mandate imposed by this Act.  The FCC’s role in the process is limited.  The FCC is to coordinate with NHTSA in their rulemaking to mandate AMs in cars, and with the GAO in its study.  But it is the transportation safety issues that are driving this push to mandate AM in cars, not issues in the FCC’s jurisdiction.

Continue Reading AM For Every Vehicle Act Introduced in House and Senate to Mandate AM Radio in Cars