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CTA Campaigns Against AM Mandate Bill

Electronics trade group runs online ads opposing it, says precedent would curb innovation  

The trade association representing the U.S. consumer technology industry is conducting a campaign against an AM radio mandate for cars.

The Consumer Technology Association is running a “Say No to the AM Radio Mandate” campaign online, telling consumers that freedom of choice and technological progress are under threat from special interests in Washington.

The proposed “AM for Every Vehicle Act” that is supported by broadcasters and many members of Congress would direct the National Highway Safety Administration to implement rules requiring car manufacturers to maintain terrestrial AM radio service. The National Association of Broadcasters has been conducting its own campaign in support.

CTA states in its ads: “This outdated and counterproductive measure will stifle innovation and impose unnecessary costs on automakers, ultimately affecting consumers. We must voice our opposition to this mandate to protect consumer choice and allow the automotive industry to continue evolving.”

The association has been vocal against a mandate from the outset, as we have reported. Now the group asks consumers to contact their U.S. senators and representatives and urge them to oppose the mandate. “By doing so, you’ll be playing an essential role in advocating for a free-market economy, consumer choice and continued innovation in the automotive industry.”

The campaign includes a link to send an email to the appropriate member of Congress. The template reads: “I write to oppose a proposed mandate to include AM radio in all new cars. As a resident of your state, I value progress, consumer preferences and freedom of choice in the market. The proposed mandate is not needed and contradicts these values. We live in an age where technological advances are made at an unprecedented pace, providing consumers with many ways to consume audio content. Streaming services, satellite radio and smartphone integration in cars have revolutionized our listening experiences. While AM radio offers important news, weather updates and entertainment options, FM radio, streaming services, improved rural broadband and wireless text alerts can effectively provide necessary information in emergencies.”

The prepared email continues: “Our vehicles have come a long way from the era of the Model T. Just as we have moved on from gramophones to a wide array of modern audio devices, we should allow the same progress in our vehicles. Washington should not dictate the design of our car entertainment systems.”

In May, CTA President/CEO Gary Shapiro co-signed a letter to the backers of the legislation, expressing their opposition. The other signatories are the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, the Zero Emission Transportation Association and TechNet.

Asked by Radio World to comment, Michael Petricone, CTA’s senior vice president, government affairs, replied, “The United States is great because we lead the world in innovation and Washington shouldn’t get involved in protecting legacy technologies and business models.”

[Read more Radio World coverage of the AM radio story.]