CEA, NAB exchange fire over radio on cell dispute


The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has countered a Harris Poll to suggest that a large majority of US citizens do not want FM tuners available on their cell phones. The NAB study suggests that an equally large majority do want radio included.

CEA says that “most” consumers are not interested in the tuner; that 80% do not support a government to include the tuners; and that 75% believe that manufacturers should decide what goes into the devices they make.

“Americans continue to want consumer electronics products designed by market demand rather than government mandates. The CE market is the most innovative and growing sector in our economy. We understand that radio broadcasters are facing competition from new services and technologies, but rather than rely on government mandates, we encourage broadcasters to provide innovative services that Americans actually want to use,” said CEA’s Gary Shapiro. “CEA and its member companies encourage Congress to leave such unwanted and unnecessary mandates out of any performance royalty legislation.”

NAB’s Dennis Wharton responded, “NAB stands by the findings of Harris Interactive, a nationally recognized polling firm with the highest integrity. Ironically, CEA’s own member companies build cell phones with radio capability that are in high demand in numerous markets outside the United States. Only in the America, where exclusive contracts between manufacturers and carriers govern the mobile phone market, is radio-capability relegated to third-class status.”

RBR-TVBR observation: Wouldn’t CEA have a field day if the poll cited by NAB was conducted by a firm called NAB Market Research? Let’s check who conducted the CEA poll. Why, it’s CEA Market Research! Hmmmmmm.

We would suggest that if you put the words “government mandate” at the front of a poll question, it will automatically guarantee a certain amount of opposition in this freedom-loving nation, whether the mandate makes sense or not.

The fact is that cell phones exist at the pleasure of the public, and would be useless without the public granting access to the public airwaves. It is therefore entirely reasonable to ask for some public service responsibility in return, and that includes making local broadcast radio available as a key news and information service during times of emergency.

The manufacturers could simply take it upon themselves to provide this as a service to the public, but if they’d prefer not too in order to favor subscription audio services, as many believe, then perhaps the government will need to step in.