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Radio Presses FCC on HD Power Boost, FM in Cell Phones(2)

Execs stress enhanced public safety benefits of including FM tuners in wireless handsets.

The U.S. commercial radio industry is pressing the Federal Communications Commission about getting wireless carriers to include FM radio in cell phones and acting quickly on the HD Radio power increase.

Several radio honchos along with NAB staff members met this week with Commissioners Michael Copps, Robert McDowell, Mignon Clyburn and Meredith Attwell Baker and their staffs. (That’s all of the commissioners except the chairman.)

It would have been nice to be a fly on that wall, given the industry firepower present. According to the filing, execs who took part included Cumulus Media’s Lew Dickey; Entercom’s David Field; Clear Channel’s John Hogan; Commonwealth’s Steve Newberry, who’s also NAB Radio Board chairman; Bonneville’s Bruce Reese; Emmis’ Jeff Smulyan; Greater Media’s Peter Smyth; and Citadel’s Farid Suleman.

The radio executives stressed the enhanced public safety benefits of including FM tuners in wireless handsets. According to an ex parte filing, they argued that technical obstacles to incorporating FM chips in mobile handsets largely have been overcome, that the chips cost about $1 or less and internal FM antennas are already included in at least 17 models of handsets in the United States. More than 30% of cell phones worldwide include FM and the battery drain is minimal from FM radio is minimal.

They also noted that the cellular industry is developing an emergency warning system based on text messaging (broadcast SMS) technology, but the radio CEOs said this kind of system is expensive and deployment is years away.

In addition, they expressed support for the proposed HD Radio power increase and urged the commissioners to act quickly to adopt the proposal agreed on between NPR and iBiquity Digital for an interim, 6 dB digital power increase.