WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, joined her colleagues this week to introduce the AM for Every Vehicle Act. The bicameral, bipartisan bill would direct federal regulators to require automakers to maintain AM broadcast radio in their new vehicles at no additional charge.
A number of automakers have removed or announced plans to remove AM broadcast radio fromsome of their vehicles. U.S. Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass.) led the introduction of the legislation.
“AM radio serves as the backbone of our emergency alert system and remains critical to public safety. Millions of Americans also rely on AM radio to hear the latest local news and weather developments. Our more rural ag communities have a rich history of farm broadcasters, who for generations have helped family farmers and ranchers thrive. Automakers have no right to suddenly drop access to such an essential service, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this important bipartisan legislation,” said Senator Fischer.
In addition to Senators Fischer and Markey, the legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), and J.D. Vance (R-Ohio). Companion legislation was introduced in the House and is cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), Tom Kean, Jr. (NJ-07), Rob Menendez (NJ-08), Bruce Westerman (AR-04), and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03).
Specifically, the AM for Every Vehicle Act would:
- Direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue a rule that requires automakers to maintain AM broadcast radio in their vehicles without a separate or additional payment, fee, or surcharge;
- Require any automaker that sells vehicles without access to AM broadcast radio before the effective date of the NHTSA regulation to clearly disclose to consumers that the vehicle lacks access to AM broadcast radio; and,
- Direct the Government Accountability Office to study whether alternative communication systems could fully replicate the reach and effectiveness of AM broadcast radio for alerting the public to emergencies.
The AM for Every Vehicle Act is endorsed by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the National Association of Farm Broadcasters.
“There is a clear public safety imperative here. Having AM radio available in our cars means we always have access to emergency alerts and key warnings while we are out on the road. Updating transportation should not mean sacrificing access to what can be life-saving information. We stand ready to provide any necessary support and expertise to the Department of Transportation and Government Accountability Office as they may need,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission.
“As I mentioned in my speech to the NAFB last November, ‘[t]he Commission should not be shy about asking auto manufacturers to serve the public interest by continuing to serve AM radio listeners[.]’ And, as I indicated in my statement earlier this year supporting former FEMA heads in their letter to the Department of Transportation regarding AM radio in vehicles, ‘I believe that the FCC should make clear the vital importance of AM radio. . . . The public safety community and the American public rely on AM radio. Auto manufacturers now, and increasingly in the future will, rely on spectrum. Care should be taken to weigh the velocity of innovations against the stability of institutions. The Commission can, and must, play a role in striking that balance.’ I welcome any effort from Congress to secure the future of AM radio for the enduring benefit of the American people, and I invite my colleagues on the Commission and across the whole of government to raise their voices in support of this vital mission,” said Nathan Simington, Commissioner of the FCC.
“NAB commends Senators Markey, Cruz, Baldwin, Fischer, Luján, and Vance, and Representatives Gottheimer, Westerman, Kean, Menendez and Gluesenkamp Perez, for their leadership in advocating for AM radio listeners. This legislation ensures that the tens of millions of Americans who depend on AM radio for news, entertainment and critical safety information each month can continue to have access to this reliable communications medium. As the backbone of the Emergency Alert System, AM radio is instrumental in promptly disseminating vital information across all mediums during crises, ensuring that communities remain safe and well-informed. America’s local broadcasters applaud the bill’s authors and supporters for recognizing AM’s critical role in our nation’s public safety infrastructure,” said Curtis LeGeyt, President and CEO of National Association of Broadcasters.
Bill text is available here.
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