NEW YORK (AP) — Congressmen on Capitol Hill are pushing to keep AM radio in the nation’s cars.
A bipartisan group in Congress introduced the AM for Every Vehicle Act. The The invoice Calls on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require automakers to keep AM radio in new vehicles at no additional cost.
The legislation also requires automakers selling cars manufactured before the proposed regulation comes into effect to inform buyers if the vehicles are not equipped with AM radios.
Proponents of keeping AM radio in cars cite public safety concerns. Supporters of the bill, presented on Wednesday, point to AM radio’s historic role in transmitting vital information during emergencies, such as communicating during natural disasters, particularly to people in rural areas.
“Automakers shouldn’t turn off AM radio in new vehicles or put it behind an expensive digital paywall,” said Senator Edward Markey, D-Mass., one of the bill’s backers, in a statement. He added that the bill aims to “ensure that this robust and popular communication tool does not become a relic of the past.”
The proposed legislation comes as more and more automakers are ditching AM radio from their newer models. According to Markey’s office, eight out of 20 major automakers — including Tesla, BMW and Ford — have removed it from their electric vehicles.
Automakers cite electric motor interference that can cause static buildup and noise in AM transmissions. Some have suggested that internet radio or other means of communication could replace AM radio. But Markey and others have dismissed this, pointing to situations where drivers may not have internet access.
“The truth is, AM broadcasting is irreplaceable,” Markey said March.
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a US group representing major automakers, has criticized the proposed legislation, calling the AM radio mandate unnecessary.
The trade group pointed to FEMA’s integrated public warning and alert system, which can distribute safety alerts over AM, FM, Internet and satellite radio, as well as cellular networks.
“This is simply a bill to support and favor a particular technology that is now competing with other communications options and adapting to a changing audience,” the alliance said, adding that automakers are committed to giving drivers access to public warnings and security have warnings.
The Federal Communications Commission and National Association of Broadcasters, meanwhile, lauded the legislation, which is also supported by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, DN.J., Rep. Tom Kean, Jr., RN. J., Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Wash., among others.
“Because we have AM radio in our cars, we always have access to emergency alerts and critical alerts while we are on the road,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. “Modernizing transportation shouldn’t mean sacrificing access to potentially life-saving information.”
Wednesday’s proposed legislation would also direct the Government Accountability Office to investigate whether “an alternative communications system” could have the same impact as AM radio in transmitting emergency information.
According to the National Broadcasting Association More than 80 million people in the US listen to AM radio every month, according to Nielsen data.