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MMTC Deems AM Radio 'Especially Significant For Underrepresented Groups.'

The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council, in conjunction with ALLvanza, National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, National Urban League and OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates, have added one more letter to the pile at the House of Representatives, urging the co-sponsoring and passing of the AM For Every Vehicle Act, with several major automakers having already removed or planning to remove the band from new vehicles.

Citing Nielsen's recent report that 80 million Americans listen to AM each month, MMTC's letter notes that this is “especially significant for communities of color and underrepresented groups that have a limited number of media outlets that cater to their specific needs. AM radio helps to fill that gap by providing a platform for locally produced content that is relevant to their audience and speaks to their unique cultural and linguistic needs.”

The letter also emphasizes AM's role as an entry point for ethnic and racial minority ownership, citing broadcast companies such as Urban One, Spanish Broadcasting System, and Asian American Broadcasting, all of which got their start owning and operating AM stations. MMTC adds, “It also highlights the importance of minority station owners curating content that is hyper-local and unique to the local communities served by AM radio stations. According to the FCC’s 6th Report on Minority Media Ownership (issued in 2022), there are over 1,200 Commercial AM stations that are wholly or partially owned by a racial or ethnic minority.”

In addition, MMTC's letter notes AM radio's role in providing communities of color and underrepresented groups with religious and in-language programming. “For many immigrants, being able to hear religious services or programs in their native language enables them to maintain cultural connections and foster a sense of community,” it says. “Delivering this content over-the-air ensures that it is accessible to those who may not have reliable internet access or who cannot afford subscription services.”

AM's importance in providing a critical source of local news and information for communities that may be overlooked by larger media outlets is also pointed out by MMTC. “Many AM radio stations are locally owned and operated, so they have an interest in covering stories that are important to their communities.” the letter says. “This information is crucial in times of emergency and natural disasters when power outages often cause wireless networks to fail. Removing AM from the dash undermines the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) system for delivering critical public safety information to the public.”

The AM For Every Vehicle Act would direct federal regulators to require automakers to maintain AM broadcast radio in their new vehicles at no additional charge to consumers, as a safety feature critical to ensuring that Americans can be alerted to impending danger.

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