Radio Wants to Kill the Wireless Star?
Over the next two years it is expected that the average America household will increase the average number of wireless devices it has from eight to 10, up from six just a couple years ago. How many broadcast radios does the average household have? No idea, but probably a safe bet it is less than eight.
But that has not stopped the broadcasters from seeking a mandate—or “rents,” as economists say—on Capitol Hill as they argue for FM chips to be included in all mobile devices … and at the consumers’ expense no less.
They claim that the mandate will lead to expanded access to public safety information by expanding the emergency broadcast system’s reach. Of course, those FM chips will receive everything else a broadcaster might choose to transmit, such as their commercial-supported programming, where more revenue is generated if more listeners tune in. And, given how advertising pricing for radio is derived, devices just having the chips will raise ad costs and broadcaster revenue.
What’s the real story? Broadcasters face a world that has changed radically in the last 20 years. Consumers now control their own listening destiny. Rather than repeating play lists sent over the air, consumers buy just the songs they want and arrange them the way they want to hear them, or tune to Internet radio, such as Pandora, to create their own station.
So why not help them out for what likely amounts to a couple bucks per device? Simply put, the notion of Washington, DC, picking winners and losers by means of technology mandates is both odious and destructive to an innovative future. And made all the more distasteful because the mandate helps broadcasters financially by burdening another industry with its costs and risk.
Oh, and there’s this: Consumers who value having an FM chip in their phone can buy one today, but they prefer to spend their money on iTunes, Spotify and Pandora embracing the future, instead of spending money in the halls of Congress embracing the past via handouts.