The Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is calling on cellphone manufacturers to ensure FM radios are active in their products.
On April 28, MeitY advised the Indian Cellular and Electronics Association and the Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology of the government’s desire to see an increase in the number of cellphones that can receive over-the-air FM signals.
“… [D]uring the last 4/5 years there is a drastic fall in mobile phones with FM tuners feature, thereby affecting not only the ability of the poor to get free FM Radio services, but also the Government’s ability to disseminate real time information during emergencies, disasters and calamities,” stated the advisory memo, which was signed by Asha Nangia, group coordinator for electronics hardware at the ministry.
The advisory noted the valuable role FM radio played in India’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the importance of the medium during natural disasters.
Given the need to ensure listeners can receive timely information during emergencies, the ministry wrote, “it should be ensured that wherever the mobile phone is equipped with an inbuilt FM Radio receiver function or feature, that function or feature is not disabled or deactivated but is kept enabled / activated in the mobile phone. Further, it is advised that if the FM Radio receiver function or feature is not available in the mobile phones, it may be included.”
MeitY called on the two associations to distribute the advisory to all mobile phone manufacturers “on a priority basis.” No timeline or enforcement measures were mentioned in the advisory.
Although many smartphones include a chip capable of receiving FM signals, not all manufacturers or carriers configure their devices to support FM reception. In the 2010s, concerted efforts were made in the United States and Canada, but FM remains an uncommon (or at least underpublicized) feature on new smartphones