CEA Fights NAB’s FM Chip Requirement for Mobile Devices

WASHINGTON: Electronics manufacturers are trying to nip in the bud a movement to require FM chips in all wireless receivers. The proposal was put forth recently by the National Association of Broadcasters in a performance-royalty dispute with the Recording Industry Association of America. The NAB agreed that radio stations would pay a royalty of 1 percent or less if Congress required all mobile devices to include receiver chips.

Consumer Electronics Association chief, Gary Shapiro, said the proposal was “the height of absurdity. “Forced inclusion of an additional antenna, processor and radio receiver will compromise features that consumers truly desire, such as long battery life and light weight.”

The CEA and five other tech and wireless lobbies fired off a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the U.S. House and Senate Judiciary Committees “urging them to resist efforts to include an FM technology mandate for mobile devices in any legislation addressing an unrelated conflict between the broadcast and recording industries over royalties.”

Shapiro signed the letter, along with the heads of The Wireless Association, the Information Technology Industry Council, the Rural Cellular Association, TechAmerica and the Telecommunications Industry Association.

“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,” they 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.”

The sextet said the proposed mandate would require every wireless device to have an integrated FM receiver chip, raising device prices for a function consumers “may not desire or ever use.” They said the NAB and the RIAA had no business dictating wireless device features.
-- Deborah D. McAdams