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NAB Blasts Critics of FM in Cellphones

Radio’s audience is growing, say broadcasters, and consumers do want radio in their phones

FM chips in cellphones would be too expensive? They’d drain the batteries? No one wants that feature?

That’s a load of manure.

Essentially that’s what NAB is saying; EVP Communications Dennis Wharton laid out a response to critics of radio’s push to get FM chips in cell phones.

In a blog post, he seeks to correct what the NAB calls exaggeration, rhetoric and factual inaccuracies by several wireless companies, manufacturers and the Consumer Electronics Association.

Earlier this week six associations representing these groups, including CEA, wrote a letter to Congress opposing the mandated inclusion of radio in cellphones and other personal devices.

A possible FM chip requirement is one of the negotiating points in performance royalty bargaining between NAB and musicFirst. CEA head Gary Shapiro criticized broadcasters and the music business as “buggy-whip industries that refuse to innovate and seek to impose penalties on those that do.”

Wharton writes:

“When mass produced, an embedded radio receiver would cost pennies per cell phone. And while critics claim that a radio receiver would drastically drain a cell phone’s battery; that claim is simply not accurate. A typical cell phone with an FM radio chip could provide the cell phone subscriber with 10 or more consecutive hours of radio listening on a single battery charge.”

Wharton states that the radio audience is growing, not shrinking as critics charge, and he includes statistics from Arbitron to prove it.

Consumers like radio-capable cell phones, he said, saying several studies counter the charge that no one is asking for radio capability in wireless phones. He also reiterated broadcasters’ argument that portable radio receivers provide invaluable information during emergencies.