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NAB Wants to Talk About Embedding FM Chips in Cellphones

Broadcast trade association says now is the time to reasonably discuss the issue.

The NAB says now that the nation is coming off one of the worst years on record for natural disasters, its broadcast members believe it is the right time for a reasonable and factual discussion on the merits of cellphone manufacturers and carriers embedding FM chips in their devices.

Policymakers such as members of the Congressional Black Caucus and former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps agree the issue needs to be discussed, according to the trade association.

The NAB supports the voluntary adoption of radio receivers in mobile devices. It has supported the action on a voluntary basis for about a year after previously supporting a federal mandate to get existing FM chips enabled or new chips built into devices as part of negotiations with the recording industry over performance rights.

“Radio receivers also allow broadcasting to relieve strain felt by wireless networks when data demands go up before, during and after an emergency,” wrote NAB Media Relations Manager Zamir Ahmed in the trade association’s blog. “Rather than strain a congested network, users could access local radio stations on their phones and find the critical information they are seeking.”

Some carriers are still claiming that consumers aren’t clamoring to have FM as a feature in their phones, according to Ahmed. “Apparently they never got the memo from smartphone manufacturer RIM, which recently announced it is equipping two of its newest BlackBerry models with FM radio capabilities.”

It’s time for more carriers to hear that message, he states, and adds that NAB is “committed to working with wireless carriers to expand the availability of broadcast radio service in mobile phones.”