The fight over the future of AM radio intensified slightly this week as organizations representing the auto and technology industries told Congress that their plan to force this mode of radio reception is poorly designed and will hinder progress.
AM radio has seen nearly every in-car entertainment option come and go—vinyl, 8-track, cassette tape, and CD—and it may well predate almost everything other than “I Spy” playback, but time is catching up with this outdated broadcast technology. It’s starting to fall behind as new models — many of them electric cars — go off into the sunset, blaring rather than modulating their amplitude.
When we reported on the news that AM would be absent from the 2024 Ford Mustang, we noticed that some congressional elected officials weren’t cool with the retirement of this type of radio. Now some of them have gone further and introduced a bill – the “AM Radio Per Vehicle Act” – which would require every new vehicle to include an AM radio receiver as standard equipment at no additional cost to the vehicle buyer.
“I think if Elon Musk had enough money to buy Twitter and send rockets into space, he could embed AM radio in his Teslas. Instead, Elon Musk and Tesla and other automakers are putting public safety and emergency response at risk,” Rep. Josh said. Gottheimer (D-N.J.), a co-sponsor of the legislation.
“As more and more Americans embrace electric vehicles, we must make sure they have AM radio. AM radio is — and will remain — an essential communications channel for emergency alerts and for spreading news and other important information to the residents of our neighborhood and to communities across our country. I am proud to co-lead This is bipartisan legislation that will ensure that electric vehicles continue to be provided with this essential and critical capability,” said Rep. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), another sponsor.
The proposed new law also received support from the Federal Communications Commission and the broadcasting industry.
But the industries responsible for actually implementing this requirement aren’t nearly as enamored. Yesterday, the Zero Emissions Transportation Association, the Coalition for Automotive Innovation, the Consumer Technology Association, and TechNet sent a letter to the bill’s eleven cosponsors in the House and Senate to point out how wrong they might be. .
While AM radio remains popular for local sports broadcasts and talk radio, the drafters of the proposed legislation would frame their work in terms of emergency alerts. This might have made sense in the days of Marconi and Bell, but we live in the 21st century in more ways than one to beep alerts. Furthermore, for a wireless alarm to actually work, it must be turned on and tuned to the correct wavelength.
As the letter from the trade groups indicates, 97 percent of Americans own a cell phone, which is already designed to receive wireless emergency alerts, and these alerts can be received even if the cellular network is unable to transmit calls or other data.
Other than wireless alerts, they can also have an embedded hyperlink that directs the recipient to useful information within seconds of receiving the alert; since 85% of Americans with a cell phone own a smartphone, the vast majority of people who receive an alert can take advantage of it. of this feature.
Perhaps if this bill becomes law, its framers will follow through with a requirement for all pedestrians to carry an AM radio at all times as well, just in case.
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