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FM Chip Issue Stays in Front of Congress

Rep. Clarke seeks hearing in subcommittee of House Homeland Security Committee

It appears that the idea of integrating FM chips in cell phones and other mobile devices has another congressional supporter.

Michigan Democrat Rep. Hansen Clarke is seeking a hearing on the topic.

In a letter to Florida Republican Rep. Gus Bilirakis and California Democrat Rep. Laura Richardson, chair and raking member respectively of the House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications, Clarke asked them to hold a hearing on the incentive auction process for television and the use of radio chips in cellphones, stressing the emergency communication capabilities of FM chips.

“I believe the use of broadcast radio chips can provide consumers with fast and reliable access to both emergency alerts and in-depth emergency information,” writes Clarke.

NAB has said repeatedly it is not seeking a mandate for FM chips but a healthy discussion, and is stressing the safety aspect of the issue, pointing out that a person could hear an alert on their phone aired by a radio station, for free, if the device had an enabled FM chip.

Wireless manufacturers and service providers are united against a mandate and say that some 59 cellphones on the market in the U.S. do contain an FM chip and that seems to be enough. Consumer Electronics Association President/CEO Gary Shapiro told NAB it should cut a deal with a manufacturer to get FM chips integrated into phones and then promote the products on stations.

In June, the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology touched on the FM chip issue during a hearing on the future of audio and most recently, the FCC brought wireless and broadcast representatives together for a closed-door meeting on the topic. At the time, Emmis Communications Chairman/President/CEO Jeff Smulyan called the talks “full and robust” and hopes there will be more such meetings at the agency.


Smulyan Hopeful on FM Chip Issue