So here's the deal: the National Association of Broadcasters (radio) and the Recording Industry Association of America (music labels) have been arguing and nit-picking at each other for years over who gets what money. As of right now, only songwriters are paid for what is played on the radio. This means both the RIAA and the NAB are missing out on boatloads of money. So, if you were a big multi-million dollar company - what would you do? You would push it onto a third party of course. Well, that's what they're doing at least; and that party just so happens to be the Consumer Electronics Association.

The Consumer Electronics Association is the trade organization that oversees most of the technogly industry - including the maker of that cell phone you're holding. As you can imagine, having someone else dump their money problems on you can have you feeling pretty frustrated.

So what are RIAA and the NAB proposing? They want Congress to enact a law that will mandate that all cell phones, PDAs, portable devices, etc; to include an FM receiver on each device. If passed by Congress, the Consumer Electronics Association would be responsible for the oversight of this transition. Radio would then agree on paying around $100 million a year to record labels and in turn, the stations would gain a much larger network to reach out to. Everybody wins, right?

CEA president, Gary Shapiro, had this to say on the matter, "The backroom scheme of the [National Association of Broadcasters] and RIAA to have Congress mandate broadcast radios in portable devices, including mobile phones, is the height of absurdity. Rather than adapt to the digital marketplace, NAB and RIAA act like buggy-whip industries that refuse to innovate and seek to impose penalties on those that do."

So where are the consumers in this mess of politics and conglomerates? The music labels and and broadcasting industry believe that this will all be in the best intrest of consumers; as it would provide "more music choices."

How do you feel about having an FM receiver in all of your electronics devices? Some Android smartphones are already have FM built-in. Wait, you just really that Pip-Boy 300 -- don't ya? [Ars Technica]


Reader comments

Congress to mandate FM radio receivers in all cell phones?


I'll add my agreement to that. I like having an FM Radio is my iPod Nano now but I usually listen to NPR. Once it gets to music I hate the roulette of "will I like the next song?". When it comes to music I listen to my Android/iPod or hit up Slacker.

While I like having FM Radio in my DInc, it's not something I even use that much and was certainly not the selling points which drew me to the purchase.

This is just one more example of the government frittering away time and taxpayer money rather than addressing the real and very present problems we have in this country today.

Well if you think about it. It's just the way our Political system is designed. They are only going to focus on areas where they can get a kickback or areas that will get them re-elected during an election year.

I'm sure these record labels have lobbyist pushing this and promising them something.

Its actually not government.

If you read the article its about a lobbying group trying to push it for their own interests. There is no national interest to having this and therefore it will go nowhere.

That being said, its already built into the chip sets of a lot of phones (and chip set manufacturers are probably in there lobbying just like the music industry). Its in the Nexus One, but no software released, because there is very little demand for this.

I realize it's right now just at the lobbying state, but given the current mindset of Congress, I'm sure they won't be able to resist keeping their hands out of it regardless of if there is a demand for it or not. I was drawing the logical conclusion of where I personally think this will head. I hope I'm wrong! :)

I have yet to use the FM radio in my Incredible. For that matter, I don't use it much as a music player even though it holds my entire CD collection on it. *shrug*

As someone who lives in an area with AWFUL radio stations where anything that once played rock music has gone top 40/pop..its impossible for me to care less about FM receivers in my cell phones or computers.

Even if I did have decent radio stations left they play what the labels tell them to. Forget that. I'll use my ipod or pandora on my Droid and I'll have the music that I choose to listen to.

Mfg should not be mandated to put in a technology just because that technology is dying and they think that by putting it in all phones that it will not die.

That is capitalism....if your business model is dying than innovate don't force your crap on everyone instead.

Good grief why can the old geezers in the music, movie and TV industry not understand that they can do the exact same thing they do now through digital channels. Why is there all this crap surrounding the showing of TV shows for instance on the internet. Just put the friggin commercials in just like they are on TV.

i must agree with the CEA President. RIAA/NAB are really trying to pull some old stuff here.. it's like mandating that all cars have an 8 track player. great, some phones do have fm transmitters, but that is just unneccisary and useless hardware to most of us. i personaly hardly if ever even SEE an FM Radio, let alone listen to one. if they could just move on with the trends of media today, they wouldn't be trying to impose so many rules on others that in reality, don't even have involvement with them.

I haven't used a radio in years! It's just TOO commercial! I'll stick with the music I want when I want it! Ipod, Music Player, Pandora is all I need.

I have my MP3s and Pandora on my Droid, so I can listen to what I want. I can also listen to podcasts if I want to hear someone talk. I almost never listen to the radio anymore.

Looking at past history, and considering this is an election year, this will likely pass. Need more money to pull the wool over the citizens eyes, so what could possibly be wrong with accepting a little lobby-money to give everyone a feature?

I already have FM radio on my Droid X and I listen to it all the time. I tune to a station that plays the artists I want, and they even respond to my requests to play more of the tracks I want, and never play the tracks I hate. Oh wait, that's Pandora/Slacker/ I guess I've never used the FM radio on my droid X.

I think this is an issue of people being greedy more than goverment wanting control over our cell phones. Seems to me the record labels want this more so they can get more money!

Yup the government is just being asked to do what the companies want. This is nothing new. The government doesn't give a damn about this issue, they just have lobbyists in their ears making them care. The RIAA needs to be shut up (again) and this will do just that if it passes.

If the government doesn't care, the government should say, "No".

The problem here is government, not some sudden increase in greed. The only reason that corporations try this is because they know it works! Without the full force of the US government, there's no way the NAB or the RIAA could ever convince customers to go along with this.

If the government would say "No" more often and let customers regulate corporations through purchase decisions, we'd be better off. Instead the government, who should be acting in the public's interest, instead gives away its power to the corporations.

The problem isn't the corporations. It's the government, who should not be using its power that way.

Yea, that's in a perfect world. Not America. The problem is both Corporations and Government if you ask me. You could say the same thing about the Corporations. Why don't they say "NO" and have some morals. Corporations are "Greedy" and politicians are "Greedy." I'm sick of people always bashing govt.(keep in mind they deserve it most of the time) but always giving these corporations a free pass in the name of "Capitalism." Both are the problem! They are all GREEDY!

Sure corporations are greedy. That's a given. Corporations always have been, and always will be greedy.

But corporations, without the power of government, do not have the ability to force us to be their customers. But try not to be a customer of the government and someone with a gun shows up at your door.

The problem is the government. They have the guns. And corporations try very hard to convince the government to use their guns to write laws that force us to be customers of one or another corporation. The government is specifically formed for the purpose of representing the public interest. When the sell themselves to the corporations, it's the government that's in the wrong.

Sure, I'd love to see corporations not be greedy. But I'd also like to see my bank account grow the more money I spend. I'd like to find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I'd like all kinds of things from fantasy world. And waiting for corporations to give up on greed is just another unrealistic hope.

Expecting government to not sell itself to greedy corporations may very well be more pie in the sky. But that is the charter of the government. So as hard as that seems, it seems like it has some realm of possibility considering that it was formed under those assumptions.

The way they are going about this is pretty bad.

But... I like having an FM radio in my Droid Incredible. In fact, I might go as far to say it was a selling point for me. I listen to the local traffic reports in the morning while I'm getting ready for work. And being on a portable device means I can take it with me when I'm getting ready for work.

Almost every major radio station has their channel broadcast on the net. Plus look what clear channel did with I heart radio.there is no need for manufacturers to be forced to add an FM radio to their devices so that we can have more advertising forced on us. That's why I listen to slacker and Pandora. Because yes they have ads but its not 5 mins of ads for 10 min of radio. Booo Congress.

I see almost no point in FM radio anymore. Why listen to FM when I have Pandora, LAST FM and many other commercial free choices.

I have had an FM Tuner in my car and my Zune for a long time. I just bought an Evo with the FM Tuner. Guess what? I don't ever use them. Radio is horrible, 20-30 minutes of commercials and personalities that sound broken every hour. The only good thing on FM is NPR. Instead, I am very happy with Sirius Satellite Radio and Slacker. Eventually Sirius will get all of it's channels on their Internet feeds. I can run Sirius on my PC, my EVO, and in my car. I can stream Slacker at work or from my phone. I can also run Slacker to my audio system. I never have to listen to many commercials, have more access to better music selections, and a huge assortment of sports and talk radio.

There is one bad thing about these methods though. If I have to rent a car and it doesn't have Sirius or an input jack, I want to claw my ears out from the FM radio broadcasts.

This is so stupid, an FM reciever chip and accompanying components will take up some extra real estate on the board of any phone. It's not as simple as the RIAA is proposing. Plus it'll add to the cost of every cell phone manufactured, which in turn will be more money paid by consumers than the RIAA would be getting from the radio industry.

In the end, consumers pay the price for greedy business. I sure as heck never use my FM radio on my evo.

The government would be majorly overstepping it's role as govermnent here. It's not like it would be for the general publics best interest, safety or well being to do this.

I love having an FM radio in my DInc and I like to listen to Baseball/Football on the FM radio vs. an app, especially when I notice that for some reason the iHeartRadio app doesn't play anything during the baseball game on that station. I guess MLB wants me to pay for their app.

Now, I will say that the FM Tuner on the DInc really isn't very good. I have an old Sansa that I've taken to using because it is much better.

Maybe I'm just a noob but I like the DJ's / hosts of radio programs on my stations where I live. I like listening to a person mention a few offbeat facts, play a set and move on. I mean yeah I don't like the commercials, but I still watch Cable TV too, and they need to keep the lights on somehow.

If there are internet radio programs/apps/etc that feature actual SHOWS (music or otherwise) rather then just straight music, point me to them.

I already have my music collection and youtube if I just want endless music. *shrug*

Maybe I'm missing the point.

Btw, making certain tech mandatory is... kind of dumb. In any industry, unless it's a safety standard of course.

UNRELATED: Why don't car's stereos have a Bluetooth receiver in it? With how many people stream from their iTouch/iPhone/Cellphone-- it'd seem smart for automobile makers to offer this to allow wireless streaming without worthless FM Transmitters.

Many commercial FM stations have free internet streaming which means you can listen to normal FM broadcast (DJ's and everything) with your browser or any dedicated radio streaming application. I use RadioTime on my Evo, it "tunes" to many local FM broadcasts but also allows me to listen to many FM stations outside of my local reception area.

Having a built-in FM receiver on my unit is just an additional feature, not something that will make or break a purchase for me, just added convenience. Do I want government to mandate it, hell no! But is nice to have it if it comes included in the package.

Well thanks for clearing that up for me.
Scary how I'm only 23 and feel like I'm falling behind the times.

This is such a bad idea I can't fathom why the music / movie industry isn't able to keep up with technology. Instead of trying to innovate their industries they sit around bitching and looking for scape goats. They'd rather sit around on their asses and have their lawyers sue college kids and single mothers, bunch of BS.

Funny thing is even though the mainstream media industry and porn industry are so similar the porn industry is always the ones trying to use new technology, and the mainstream media is trying to ban new technology (Porn industry "you mean I can record a movie on this 'vhs tape' and sell it so people can watch it at home instead of in a movie theatre filled with other people? WE'LL TAKE SEVERAL THOUSAND!" movie industry "People can use these 'vhs or betamax tapes' to watch and record tv and movies at home? WE WILL NEVER ALLOW IT!").

I agree with above comments: I have Pandora and other media and hadly ever listen to the radio.

As long as the requirement doesn't 1) increase my cost of phone or service 2) mess around with security 3) require me to use the radio for something other than... the radio, they can go ahead with it. FM Transmitter also enables GPS inside of buildings or other areas where satalite transmission is blocked. Traditional location aiding using cell phone towers isn't very accurate, but coupled with FM radio location...viola. You can now track about anything anywhere.

This doesn't make much sense to me at all.

1. The proposal is to add FM receivers, not transmitters.

2. Given the longer range of FM stations vs. cell towers I don't think FM would be particularly useful for location purposes. Being able to hear a given station just doesn't narrow things down much, if the station can be heard over a 100 mile radius.

Am I missing something?

In a nutshell...we now have the tech which combines GPS and FM radio waves for a more accurate geo location assistance. You will now be able to find yourself inside a building or in a metro area where satalite is often inhibited.

Stupid. If a manufacturer wants to put it there fine, but to mandate it? What happens when the world moves on from FM radio? There we are with devices that must have an FM radio even though there is no FM radio anymore.

Did you know that if we did not "move on" from needing telephone operators that we would need close to a billion operators now to handle the call volume?

Progress defeats protectionists -- no mandate!

They're better off mandating that all radio stations broadcast on the Internet, then my phone can listen to them without wired headphones...

I listened to FM, then I discovered Slacker - this is a waste of my money.

The last time I listened to FM radio was soon after I got my DInc and that was only a couple minutes to see if the feature was worth the effort. It worked pretty good but I have satellite radio in my car and pandora and slacker on my phone, have no use for FM radio anymore and haven't for a couple years now.

I totally agree here, I used the FM radio the first day to make sure it works and never turned it on again since. If anything at all, they should look into providing AM tuners so we can keep up with emergency broadcasts in situations such as natural disasters or such.

I guess they better change their commercials then. You hear commercials saying get a HD radio so that you can hear all the free channels. If they pass this how can they say it is free now. We will end up paying for it in one way or another. It is not our fault that they can not keep up with times and what consumers want or like. It is funny reading these comments. I have a DINC and I used the radio once to check it out. I have not used it since then. If they put it in these devices what makes them think it will get used. People would do it on occasions for certain things and they may be it. That is why fm radio is dying no one listens like they used to with many other options out there. They need to also look at another thing with this. The items they want to put this in are what they are competing against. If you had to find stations to listen to and then listen to commercials on a device that you can just go to slacker/pandora radio which do you think a person is going to choose. Wow what a bunch of greedy Bleep we have at the head of the country both government and big business.

Talk about a step backwards in technology... I have FM on my current Droid X. I have used it 0 times. The last phone I had with FM radio, I used it 0 times. The last time I can even remember using an FM receiver on a phone was a very old Nokia. I personally can't stand having wires connected to my devices, which is necessary to do for every phone I have dealt with that had an FM receiver. There is ONE exception that I could think of... IF you were definitely going to keep the head set with you at all times, it would be okay to have the receiver capabilities during a weather-related emergency (tornados or hurricanes). But who carries that around when there are a number of Bluetooth headsets on the market for fairly cheap? I wouldn't mind seeing them require built in antennea for FM band devices but even then I don't think any government has the authority to force us to carry a convenience item or pay the expense for one we won't use. I don't think this would ever pass legally. Unless I am mistaken, Congress will most likely bitch slap them down with the 10th Amendment! Sounds to me like they need to be put back in check.

I'm in radio, and still think this is a bad/anti-freemarket idea! Like some have said, when will it end? Require cassette tape or 8-tracks be in my phone? What a nanny-state!

I can "tune" in many stations by streaming their web feed. Ironically, not mine, since we only stream the network feed and not the local station. I wish we did, though, then I could stream my own local programs. Still, I don't want you to have to pay for an FM radio in your phone you may never use.

And what about AM stations? I guess that's out because Washington does not want it easier to listen to righty talk radio. What about requiring there be a cable/fios/sat feed so I can watch that?

Re-dic-u-lous! Put your broadcast station on the web, and I will be able to stream it fine! In fact, while I drive it is better quality for me to listen to local radio streams via Radiotime than it is to just play them directly through the car radio. Reception on some stations is so much worse over-the-air, and streaming has become so much better over the years.

Just to touch on one thing you said..AM radio isn't an issue because there is no RIAA interest. The government are NOT the ones pushing this. This is the Lobbyists for the RIAA's agenda and they're in the governments ear. FM Radio is where the money is gained (or lost) and thats why this is being pushed.

As usual everything comes down to money.

Songwriters are the only ones who get paid from songs on the radio?

So if a Jennifer Hudson song is playing on the radio, and she didn't actually write it, she doesn't get paid for it?

That can't be true...

If there was a valid reason for including a Radio receiver in every hand set it would be an AM radio receiver for emergency broadcast reasons.

FM's range it too limited. In the boondocks you get no FM.

In a national emergency such as a major quake or AM radio is the only thing you will have everywhere, because there is a network of 50,000 watt stations that can be heard just about anywhere.

Failing that, this is a pointless endeavor that goes nowhere.

Congress should be prohibiting carrier locks on phone, not adding useless nonsense.

Instead of FM radio, they should just mandate having an AM station preset to Emergency Broadcast Systems. Imagine having your cell phone automatically pop up a notification about an emergency broadcast and allowing you the option to listen in. This is a real life saver and makes more sense.

Now that is a neat idea. I've been travelling several times and noticed the weather getting bad, but not seen a sign telling which AM station to tune into. (Why don't they put those up more frequently on highways?) Having the phone pop up a notification like that would definitely save some searching and fumbling.

I think that this is absurd and ridiculous...
So much so... that it will likely get passed/implemented~~

Hey, NAB and RIAA, I've got news for you. With Pandora/, there isn't much reason to listen to FM on my phone. Why would I want to put up with commercials and a bunch of annoying talk every few songs when I can just tune into the music that I want to listen to? My last three mp3 players have also had fm receivers, and I never used that feature in them either.

Of course having an FM radio on your phone is "nice"... I guess, but making it a government mandate is absolutely disgusting, and I hope to God I don't have to explain why.

I want congress to pass a law mandating that all cell phones include a Swiss army knife and dental floss.

My girlfriend also wants a blowdryer.

Actually I would use my FM receiver if they would find a way for me to be able to use it without the wired headphones.Can't they find any other way to improve reception? I hate wired headphones

Radio is going the same way newspapers went. Honestly only old ppl listen to the radio a lot. With mp3 players who needs radio. I get all my music from websites and limewire then put them on my zune hd. I never use the fm radio cuz every song on the radio I don't like. At least with my zune I can listen to my music all the time NO commercials or censorship!

So what happens if this goes thru and most people carry on NOT using the government mandated FM receivers... Can someone take the RIAA to court over the colossal waste of time and money that will have been?

I'll ignore the RIAA crying to the government for help to make more money off the efforts of others for the moment...

This is a terrible idea. Not that I have anything against radio. Despite having a Droid X loaded with about 10 gigs of music, stereo bluetooth headsets and an FM transmitter I still listen to a local station every morning. My problem is attempting to force electronics manufacturers into a design nightmare. There is only so much space inside the casings of our phones. More and more the phones are coming packed with antenna arrays for various signals. Prolly in the very near future, our mobile devices will be NFC capable for mobile commerce.

And someone has the bright idea to cram yet another chipset and antenna array into these devices? One that is almost completely unnecessary (seeing how the radio station I listen to in the mornings can be streamed via an app). Sure, extend the design times on new devices unnecessarily. Makes a lot of sense.

Prediction if this goes thru: The iPhone 5 picking up ham radio during telephone conversations due to an oversight in the placement of the FM antenna :p

Oh yeah, my Droid X has an FM radio built in that I never will use because I loathe corded headphones

It is kind of silly and greedy on the part of the RIAA. But, I do wish I had a radio on my Motorola Droid. I stream my local NPR station every morning using the NPR Android app. However, I would prefer an FM tuner because they are much better on battery life. As mention above, if the manufacturers would also add a feature that automatically turns on the radio and plays emergency alerts, that would be helpful. I have a feeling this will turn into a public safety issue and get passed.

Radio is just obsolete in the digital era. The absolute commercialism of the music industry killed the radio star. The backlash is iTunes & digital distribution. Nobody wants to hear an obnoxious DJ & does FM actually play any music anymore? Nothing I've wanted to hear. For the last 2 years, it's all been an iPod with downloaded content or my iPod Touch for podcast, TV shows, & movies. I can also instantly stream anything on my Android device. Radio was a tremendous innovation of the late 19th and early 20th century. However, radio is a little over 100 years old technology. In the 21st century, many 20th century tech will be obsoleted fast. If radio dies, doesn't hurt me. I can get news & music via the wireless web.

This is the same crap that got pulled with Satellite Radio. If you have XM or Sirius you are now paying a royalty fee to listen to what you're already paying for (and I mostly listen to talk radio anyway, and I still have the fee built in to my subscription). If they want to put FM in my phone...fine. I won't use it. And I certainly WILL NOT pay for it.

I do not want, or need, anyone mandating that something, that might be superfluous to me (or others), MUST be within a device of my choosing, whether I want it or not.

These people really need to join the 21st century...

Okay, I know this is 'Droid Central, but think of this from the iPhone perspective. Steve Jobs obviously hates FM radio (like most of the rest of us) or it'd be in there by now. And in a fight between Steve and the RIAA I know who I'd bet on...

AM in a cell phone is a technical problem - AM receivers need a longwire antenna (usually a piece of iron wrapped inside a coil of wire). Put that an inch from a CPU chip and you hear nothing. It would also affect the cell phone's ability to transmit and receive. Almost nobody under 50 listens to AM - the few remaining viable stations are starting to simulcast on HD2/3 channels on FM or getting FM Translators. Canada and Europe are in the process of turning off their AM stations.

The owner of Emmis is the main one pushing this - he is trying to sell it to the FCC on the basis of emergency communications by the government. For EAS to work in a cell phone, either you have to already be tuned to the station, or the phone itself must unilaterally allow the government to take control of the phone. Over 8,000 radio stations in the U.S. already stream - there is no need for this. During the 9/11 attack, the EBS/EAS system was never activated. That proves its worthlessless to me. If there was ever a time to press the button and tell the country what was happening, that was it. EAS exists only to give the FCC an enforcement hammer and a revenue stream for fining stations.

Do any of the cell phones that currently have an FM tuner allow the phone to record and save digital copies of the music from the FM radio? There is little doubt Apple's opposition on the iPhone is motivated by iTunes music sale revenue.