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House Hearing Will Discuss AM in Cars

Read what committee leaders from both parties had to say about AM

Headshot of Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers chairs the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

AM radio’s presence in cars will be the subject of an “educational” hearing on Capitol Hill in early June.

The Energy and Commerce Committee and its Communications and Technology Subcommittee will hold the hearing.

Statements about AM radio were issued by chair Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Republican of Washington state; the ranking Democrat, Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey; and the top Republican and Democrat on the subcommittee, Reps. Bob Latta of Ohio and Doris Matsui of California respectively. All four were supportive of AM radio, without commenting on specific legislation; those statements are reprinted below.

Bills have been introduced in both houses of Congress to make AM radio mandatory.

Latta noted that he and Rep. Greg Pence of Indiana recently asked carmakers for a status report on their deployment of AM and that he’s hoping to have their responses by the end of the week.

Here are their statements:

Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA): —  “Communities across the country rely on AM radio services for local news, weather reports, and other critical information. It is also a key tool for our nation’s emergency communications infrastructure, especially when other communication services are not available. I look forward to this timely discussion on the many benefits of AM radio as a source of information and the importance of ensuring it continues to be available in new vehicle models.”

Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) —  “It’s alarming that some auto manufacturers are considering opting out of installing AM radios in new cars. AM radio plays an essential role in our communities, especially during public emergencies when other alert systems that rely on the electric grid and cellphone networks may not work. I’m looking forward to the Energy and Commerce Committee holding a hearing on this important matter next month. Corporate penny pinching is not a justification to undermine one of our nation’s most reliable public emergency communication networks, and requiring consumers to pay more money for a subscription service to receive AM radio is not an acceptable alternative.” — Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ)

Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chair Bob Latta (R-OH) — “AM radio capabilities are essential for Americans across the country, but especially for those who live in rural communities, like many in Ohio’s Fifth Congressional District, where other forms of connectivity may not be reliable. Whether listeners tune in to listen to updates during times of emergencies, the home team’s game, agricultural information, or for other reasons, it is concerning vehicle companies are taking steps to remove these stations from their electric cars. Earlier this month, I lead a letter with my colleague from Indiana, Rep. Greg Pence, to ask auto manufacturers for a status update on the use of AM radio and their plans to remove AM radio receivers from their vehicles. I look forward to receiving their responses by the end of the week. In the meantime, it is my hope that announcing this educational hearing will show the important role AM radio stations have played for decades.”

Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Doris Matsui (D-CA) — “AM radio provides Americans a crucial public service. In the face of a life-threatening disaster, Americans need to be able to rely on emergency communications to get them the information they need. AM radio has proven again and again to be that reliable tool. Whether during wildfire season or severe winter storms, in California we understand just how vital AM radio is to ensure Americans get emergency information when it matters most. I look forward to holding a hearing on this important topic.”

[Read more coverage of AM radio in cars.]