Can AM radio be stored in cars? A bipartisan bill in Congress may force automakers to keep it, even as Ford drops the AM from all new cars

With the media sounding the alarm that AM radio is increasingly being dropped by auto manufacturers, a bipartisan group of congressmen has introduced legislation that would require auto manufacturers to keep the traditional radio band intact in new cars.

The AM per vehicle law was introduced in both the House and Senate on Wednesday. If successful, it would turn the tide that saw several electric vehicle manufacturers, including Tesla, drop them from those vehicles — citing overlap between the AM band and electric drive systems — and, most worryingly for AM radio listeners, Ford found planning to drop AM from everyone new cars.

The FCC, while it has no regulatory power over what auto manufacturers do, applauds the new Congressional legislation.

“For decades, free AM radio has been an essential tool in emergencies, an important part of our diverse media ecosystem, and an indispensable source of news, weather, sports, and entertainment for tens of millions of listeners,” said Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA), according to a report by Inside. Radio. “Automakers shouldn’t be tuning AM radio in new cars or putting it behind an expensive digital wall.”

There is a political aspect to the growing controversy: some conservatives have claimed that the shift to ax AM is part of a move to silence right-leaning talk radio, which mostly thrives on the AM dial. Not surprisingly, Cruz emphasized this angle, calling AM “a crucial bulwark of democracy.” But many Democratic members of Congress are joining the fight to keep AM too, especially those representing rural areas, where the need for emergency access to information is vital.

FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement, “There is a clear imperative for public safety here. The availability of AM radio in our cars means we can always access key emergency alerts and warnings while we’re out on the road. Modernizing transportation shouldn’t mean sacrificing access to what we can.” It’s life-saving information.”

In the Senate, supporters include Markey, Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Deb Fisher (R-Northeast), Ben Ray Logan (D-NM) and J. de Vance (R-OH). In the House of Representatives, the legislation’s first advocates are Reps. Marie Glusenkamp-Perez (R-WA), Bruce Westermann (R-DA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Tom Kane Jr. (R-NJ) and Rob Menendez. (D-NJ). Many other lawmakers are expected to sign on as co-sponsors, Inside Radio said, given that 100 House members sent letters earlier this week to all major automakers asking them to keep AM safe in new cars.

The AM per-vehicle law would include the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issuing a rule that “requires auto manufacturers to maintain AM broadcast radios in their vehicles without paying separate or additional tolls, fees, or surcharges.” Any cars sold without AM are also supposed to have a warning sticker indicating no range, in the meantime until all new vehicles comply.

According to the National Association of Broadcasters, more than 82 million people still listen to the country’s 4,185 stations each month.

However, Ford told The Washington Post that its data showed that less than 5% of the listening in its cars was from AM stations. If there is a bias in this data, it could have been pulled from internet-equipped cars.

In April, Markey surveyed the automakers for their plans moving forward with the AM. It found that eight electric vehicle manufacturers had already abandoned AM: BMW, Ford, Mazda, Polestar, Rivian, Tesla, Volkswagen and Volvo. What’s more, Ford has indicated that AM is no longer needed in its non-electric vehicles, either.

Ford’s chief government affairs officer, Christopher Smith, said, “We recognize that AM radio broadcasting has always been an important source of information for consumers.” But he said of emergency alerts that were traditionally sounded over AM, “With FM, satellite radio, mobile data, and more, vehicles and their drivers have many alternative sources for receiving these alerts.”

But Gottheimer, the House member from New Jersey, countered that by saying that AM stations could be accessed via apps ignoring what happens if, say, cellular service goes out.

“Elon Musk, Tesla and other automakers are putting public safety and emergency response at risk,” Gottheimer said. “The importance of AM radio during large-scale emergencies cannot be underestimated… when the cell phone goes down, the Internet goes down, or the TV doesn’t work because there is no electricity or power in your home, you can still turn on your AM radio.”

Not all manufacturers have adhered to either direction in the Marche survey, but very few said they had no plans to abandon AM, including Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, Subaru, Land Rover, Jaguar and Mitsubishi.

Regarding interference with electric cars, Tesla said its cars’ electric drive motors operate on a wavelength similar to that of AM, making the radio band presence in its cars “unstable and unusable.” Some other manufacturers have indicated that they are working on technology that will eliminate these interference problems. But Tesla does not consider it necessary to find a way to solve this problem, saying that anyone who wants to access the AM station can do so via mobile applications. Volkswagen also said it saw no need to find a technical solution for AM mode in electric cars.

“Although many automakers have suggested that other communication tools — such as Internet radio — can replace AM radio,” said Markey, “in an emergency situation, drivers may not be able to access the Internet and can miss important safety information. The truth is that AM radio broadcasting is irreplaceable.

During the night hours, AM still benefits from having clear-channel stations with strong signals that can be heard across several states, reaching where FM or phone signals cannot in sparsely populated areas.

AM radio He is It is found in some electric vehicles, currently, such as Toyota, with the manufacturer saying it has found a solution to electrical interference. However, the automaker wouldn’t tell the Marky that it plans to keep AM radio in the future. Toyota Vice President Stephen Ciccone said, “While Toyota has addressed this issue in our current vehicles, we would like to refrain from commenting on possible future business plans.”

According to the Washington Post, ad sales remain strong at many AM stations, with some of the most profitable stations in the U.S. news or talk outlets on the band — even if the $2 billion in advertising revenue that AM stations make each year is Just a piece of the $11 billion total of the broadcasting pie.

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