Group Takes Exception With Proposed FM Tuner Mandate

As broadcasters and the recording industry attempt to hammer out an agreement to set royalty fees for music played on the radio, one area of compromise—to mandate FM tuners in cell phones—has struck a nerve. The Consumer Electronics Association, which represents consumer electronics companies that manufacture cell phones and portable devices, would like to kill the idea, calling it “the height of absurdity.”

The National Association of Broadcasters and the Recording Industry Association of
America, which has been pushing for performance royalties on music airplay, set out the FM tuner idea as part of a broader framework for a compromise bill. Persuading Congress to mandate FM tuners in cell phones would give both radio stations and music artists’ access to larger audiences and consumers another choice.

The CEA pushed back hard on the scheme. “Forced inclusion of an additional antenna, processor and radio receiver will compromise features that consumers truly desire, such as long battery life and light weight. Reducing product performance, mandating inclusion of features consumers don’t want, and replacing product innovation by companies like Amazon, Apple, Motorola and HP-Palm with government design mandates are not in our national interest,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CEA in a statement.