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Letter: Legislation Won’t Fix It

"In 2023 the money is talking, and its voice is louder, and more lucrative for carmakers, than ever"

In this letter to the editor, the author comments on Roger Lanctot’s April 2023 story “Cars: Radio Is Out! TV Is In!” Comment on this or any article. Email [email protected].

I’ve seen several articles by Roger Lanctot, director of automotive connected mobility in the Global Automotive Practice at TechInsights. He has a long title but he is a brilliantly observant individual. 

His guest commentary “Cars: Radio Is Out! TV Is In!” explained the whole issue of AM/FM in the dashboard.

Roger Lanctot

It’s as evident as the nose on my face. If someone wants to park their vehicle on my driveway for free, I can choose to accept or reject it. If the next person comes along and offers cash to park on my driveway, I’ll more strongly consider their offer.

Then it boils down to “How much and for how long?” I might even consider throwing the “free” parking person off my property. 

Broadcast radio has had a wonderful free ride in vehicles, but with digital streaming services and satellite radio and you-name-it in the digital world of 2023, a service can push out that freeloader with the right price. While the FCC “controls” AM/FM, it doesn’t (and never will) control the RF platform that AM/FM is heard on.

Consolidation and Wall Street involvement in broadcast radio was an exercise in simple accounting: Get more signals, get more revenue. Trouble is, that coincided with Sirius, XM, their consolidation, the internet and thousands of other audio choices. The iPod. Smartphones.

If broadcast radio doesn’t come up with a workable model to battle the dashboard carpetbaggers and their bags full of cash, they’ll be left out in the cold. All of the legislation in the world won’t help. 

AM/FM, you’re being pushed off the dashboard, replaced by apps and services that will help fill the coffers of the carmakers and streaming services, the labels and copyright holders. If anyone really thinks their technological excuses make sense, I’ll be happy to sell you a money deal with the Sultan of Smashburgers. 

As Earl Pitts would say, “Wake Up, Uhmerica.” In 2023 the money is talking, and its voice is louder, and more lucrative for carmakers, than ever. It’s all legal and it’s gonna continue.

— Dave Mason

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