Poll: Consumers Would Pay for Local Mobile Radio

The radio industry is ratcheting up its push to get radio receivers into cell phones and other devices with new research showing that three out of four cell phone owners pay extra for a radio-capable device. According to a study conducted by Harris Interactive for the National Association of Broadcasters, 76 percent of cell phone owners would pay a one-time fee of 30 cents to gain access to their local radio stations on mobile phones.

The feature would be attractive to all ages, with two-thirds of adults and 71 percent of 18 to 34 year olds saying they would listen to local radio stations if a radio receiver was built-in to their cell phones.

Putting radio receivers in cell phones became a hot button issue for the radio industry. The idea surfaced as part of a compromise being hammered out between the Recording Industry of America, which has been pushing for performance royalties on music airplay and the NAB, which has opposed them.

“Most U.S. mobile phone users have been denied over-the-air access to their favorite free and local stations. With much of the U.S. cell phone market built upon exclusive contracts between carriers and manufacturers, most consumers are left paying for fee-based data-intensive streaming apps with no free, broadcast alternative,” said Dennis Wharton, evp of communications for the NAB.

Though both the radio and music industries would benefit from bigger audiences, the consumer electronics industry is opposed to any government-mandate to put the radios in cell phones.

“We agree with the NAB that some consumers may want phones with FM receivers, and they can have them, since numerous models of radio-equipped phones are already on the market. The fact is that the NAB doesn’t care what consumers want. By turning ‘FM’ into ‘forced mandate’ they want to make the consumer buy a radio whether they want one or not,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association.

The Harris survey was conducted between Aug. 31 and Sept. 2 among 2,587 Adults 18 and older.