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Emmis’ Smulyan Says FM Will Get on Cellphones

NAB Show session participants explain why radio should be in devices

“Mandate or not, we’ll get this done.”

So said Emmis Communications Chairman/CEO Jeff Smulyan Monday at an NAB session about the radio industry push to get FM chips in cellphones.

Radio wants to remain relevant and be on the devices consumers are using; hence the industry push to get wireless carriers and cellphone manufacturers to include FM chips in cellphones here, as they do in many other countries.

While NAB has pushed Congress for a mandate, wireless carriers have pushed back, saying consumers aren’t flocking to stores asking for that feature, the FM chips consume too much power and it’s expensive to do.

Emmis Communications Chairman/CEO Jeffrey Smulyan said putting FM chips in cellphones is a good business decision for both the broadcast and wireless industries. Smulyan said radio can be a free service on cellphones and offer carriers a relief to their bandwidth squeeze.

Radio can also use the phone as a back channel to provide revenue opportunities for stations and the cellphone industry alike, according to Smulyan.

Indeed, iBiquity Digital VP Portable Products Lane Bruns said an HD chip embedded in a device would give consumers a better, more interactive user experiencefor free — as opposed to the consumer using up precious bytes on a data plan as some users do now.

An NAB FASTROAD project comprised of iBiquity Digital, Emmis Interactive, BIA/Kelsey and SiPort has recently begun working on getting FM HD chips into devices.

Brian Josef, assistant vice president of regulatory affairs for CTIA – The Wireless Association, said mandates are “no good,” and misguided. But the main reason carriers aren’t rushing to put radio in their devices is because several components of a mobile device compete for space and battery life and FM chips are not yet integrated into a cell calling system.