Manufacturers of mobile devices are gearing up to fight possible legislation that would require phones, tablets and many other wireless products be built with an FM receiver. Half a dozen tech industry associations (CTIA-The Wireless Association®, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, the Information Technology Industry Council, the Rural Cellular Association, TechAmerica and the Telecommunications Industry Association) signed a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the U.S. House and Senate Judiciary Committees on Monday, urging them to resist the idea, which is being pushed as a compromise between the National Association of Broadcasters and the Recording Industry Association of America.
The arguments for requiring the chips include access to emergency FM broadcasts and a pretty thinly-veiled attempt to secure a vast audience for the broadcast and recording industry, which are both struggling to stay relevant in the face of increasingly cheap and abundant mobile devices and broadband access.
“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,” the associations wrote. “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.”
Recording and broadcasting are at odds over royalties for airplay issues, and the FM chip requirement is a somewhat tangential compromise meant to serve the interests of both parties, but the consumer electronics industry is not having it. The coalition of associations laid out their three-pronged opposition to the mandate:
* 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.
Monday's letter is in response to the compromise FM chip mandate proposal which was released by the NAB August 6th.
Image by Whiskeygonebad on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.