Hi all,

The more I read about this, the more I think it will not happen.

take care,

Jay

Tech Groups Line Up to Oppose Mandatory Cell Phone FM Tuner

Tech Groups Line Up to Oppose Mandatory Cell Phone FM Tuner

Says plans for the RIAA and NAB to press Congress to mandate FM chips in portable electronic devices are not “about public safety but are instead about propping up a business which consumers are abandoning as they avail themselves of new, more consumer-friendly options.”

Outrage is growing as more people learn of plans under consideration by the RIAA and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) whereby the RIAA would support efforts by the NAB to get Congress to require all portable electronic devices to include an FM tuner in exchange for radio paying a reported $100 million in performance royalties to artists and record labels for which it is currently exempted.

A coalition of six technology industry associations recently sent a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the U.S. House and Senate Judiciary Committees asking them not to include an FM tuner mandate as part of what is ostensibly unrelated conflict between the broadcast and recording industries over royalties.

“Calls for an FM chip mandate are not about public safety but are instead about propping up a business which consumers are abandoning as they avail themselves of new, more consumer-friendly options,” reads the letter. “It is simply wrong for two entrenched industries to resolve their differences by agreeing to burden a third industry – which has no relationship to or other interest in the performance royalty dispute – with a costly, ill-considered and unnecessary new mandate.”

It says the mandate would be bad policy for several reasons:

•Mandating that every wireless device include an FM chip would require consumers to pay more for a function that they may not desire or ever use.
•The groups that are parties to the discussions over the performance rights royalty issue lack any expertise in the development of wireless devices and are in no position to dictate what type of functionality is included in a wireless device.
•Development by the technology industry and government of a mobile broadcast emergency alerting system makes the requirement unnecessary.
The letter was signed by the Presidents and Chief Executive Officers of CTIA-The Wireless Association, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the Information Technology Industry Council, the Rural Cellular Association, TechAmerica, and the Telecommunications Industry Association.

NAB executive vice president Dennis Wharton has, of course, the opposite take on the plan, recently saying that its critics are using a “customary Washington tactic” to denigrate this “pro-consumer feature” with arguments that are “long on exaggeration, rhetoric and factual inaccuracies.”

“Cell phone subscribers deserve access to radio’s free service,” he added.

CEA president Gary Shapiro has pointed out the nonsense of it all, that instead of “innovation by companies like Amazon, Apple, Motorola and HP-Palm” we’ll be replacing it with government design requirements that are not in our “national interest.”

The NAB and RIAA have arguably never cared about either, nor should they honestly. They’re for-profit companies like any other, it’d just be nice if it came clean and admitted as much. Both are industries in decline and they want to use legislation to create new revenue streams for themselves.

Stay tuned.

jared@zeropaid.com