The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) are in a lobbying campaign to let the American public know they are paying for FM radios built in to their smartphones but the feature is deactivated in an estimated two-thirds of devices.
The issue surfaced during the broadcaster convention in Las Vegas, notably in Monday’s (April 13) opening speech from NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith.
“The HTC in Motorola phones have not been blocked,” said Jeff Smulyan, the point man on this issue for the NAB, to NPR. But Samsung, iPhone and LG have all had the chips turned off. Now for Sprint, we know all the phones (except iPhones) have the chip turned on. These phones are manufactured for global use, and in the rest of the world this isn’t an issue, [the FM receivers] are turned on and people listen to them.”
Broadcasters are appealing to consumers who pay for data, noting that the FM tuner could save millions of dollars of data charges, battery life, and provide emergency resources in case of a power outage.
“We have said to the carriers, ‘We will offer you a share of interactive revenues to recognize you are giving up data that they would be otherwise selling to the American public,” concluded Smulyan.
In 2013 the NAB, NPR and American Public Media teamed to create NextRadio, a free smartphone app that would access the FM chip. But the chip is inaccessible most notably by AT&T and Verizon Wireless devices. The NextRadio app is now owned by Emmis Communications.
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