AM radio, and its removal by some automakers from new and future vehicles, continues to make headlines in the New Year. Just this week, support for the proposed AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act achieved a symbolic milestone as the number of lawmakers in the U.S. House who back efforts to make AM radio mandatory in vehicles reached 200.
The latest cosponsors come as the National Association of Broadcasters ramps up its lobbying efforts to keep the legacy band front and center in automobile dashboards. The trade group has issued a new report stressing the crucial role AM radio plays in communicating emergency information and providing trusted news.
The report, AM Radio is Vital to Ensuring Public Safety, highlights the continued popularity of AM radio, its reach to diverse communities, its importance to the agricultural communities in rural America, and its role in emergencies, which includes first-person observations from broadcasters who were on the front lines during recent natural disasters.
“AM radio serves our communities during emergencies in two especially important ways: by disseminating emergency alert signals and by providing a reliable source of Americans’ most trusted news,” the NAB writes in the report.
The report has been released to urge the full House and Senate to support the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act.
“When disaster strikes, AM radio has proven time and again its invaluable role as a source of factual, authoritative, up-to-the-minute information that saves lives,” NAB President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt said in a release. “It is also a home to a diversity of programming that is often unavailable on other mediums and particularly important to otherwise underserved communities. It is critical that Congress address the need for AM radio capability in vehicles to ensure Americans can turn to local AM stations when they need them the most.”
If passed, the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act would direct the Department of Transportation to issue a rule requiring that AM broadcast stations be accessible in all passenger motor vehicles manufactured in, imported into, or shipped within the U.S. The Government Accountability Office would also be required to study whether alternative communication systems could fully replicate the reach and effectiveness of AM radio for alerting the public during emergencies.
No votes have been taken in the House. But during a hearing on the bill last June, there was strong support for keeping AM radio in vehicles, although a few lawmakers expressed some concerns about putting a mandate on carmakers.
Meantime in the Senate, where the bill passed out of committee last July, the list of supporters has grown too, again with a bipartisan effort. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) both added their names as cosponsors to the bill, bringing the list of supporters in the Senate to 46.
The NAB’s AM Radio is Vital to Ensuring Public Safety report can be accessed HERE.