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NAB, RIAA May Seek Mandate For FM Radios In Mobile Devices 489

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-said-reason-was-dead dept.
Trintech writes with this quote from an article at Ars Technica: "Music labels and radio broadcasters can't agree on much, including whether radio should be forced to turn over hundreds of millions of dollars a year to pay for the music it plays. But the two sides can agree on this: Congress should mandate that FM radio receivers be built into cell phones, PDAs, and other portable electronics. The Consumer Electronics Association, whose members build the devices that would be affected by such a directive, is incandescent with rage. 'The backroom scheme of the [National Association of Broadcasters] and RIAA to have Congress mandate broadcast radios in portable devices, including mobile phones, is the height of absurdity,' thundered CEA president Gary Shapiro. Such a move is 'not in our national interest.' 'Rather than adapt to the digital marketplace, NAB and RIAA act like buggy-whip industries that refuse to innovate and seek to impose penalties on those that do.' But the music and radio industries say it's a consumer-focused proposition, one that would provide 'more music choices.'"
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NAB, RIAA May Seek Mandate For FM Radios In Mobile Devices

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  • Because I need that? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @07:15AM (#33274234)

    We've survived this long with out it, why force it on us now? Its going to be something else to drain the battery of our cellphones even more. Also, I don't listen to the radio now, this won't change my listening habit. I use Pandora, thank you

  • okay then (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @07:15AM (#33274236)
    But the music and radio industries say it's a consumer-focused proposition, one that would provide 'more music choices.'

    Alright. Then they should have NO problem with the mandate also including provisions for receiving Pandora, LastFM, Grooveshark, etc on all portable electronic devices. And they should be the one's footing the bill to do so. After all, that would be a "consumer-focused proposition" that "provides more music choices", right?
  • radio? really!? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @07:18AM (#33274248)

    oh!

    that reminds me, my phone actually already has a radio tuner... how'd i forget that?

    oh right, 20 gigs of my personal music collection.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @07:33AM (#33274356)

    Wait, so, the RIAA and radio broadcasters can't make a deal over long-standing royalty issues, so they get together with congress to screw over a third party (electronics manufacturers) to solve the problem?

    What the hell? Yeah, I'd be "incandescent with rage" too.

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @07:35AM (#33274378) Homepage Journal

    If it was consumer focused, this feature would be advertised as a selling point on cell phones

    Well, some people think it's a good idea, but notice that unless they wanted to mandate radio quality, it's not likely to have even a minor benefit. I just send the kids off on a road trip with a couple new video players [amazon.com]. These are great little no-name devices - they play most formats, come with enough storage for a long car trip (900Kb mpeg4 via ffmpeg), do audio, video, ebooks - and FM radio.

    Now, that last one seems odd, doesn't it? I thought so and decided to check it out, just for grins. Now, I don't live in an area with much on the dial, and I have good radios at the house for picking up more distant stations, but there are 3-4 strong local stations that can be heard anywhere. Except on these little things. The FM radio is effectively useless, the strongest stations cut in and out.

    My suspicion is some marketdroid insisted on that extra feature, but whoever designed the unit for sale (or at the Chinese reference design) knew that almost nobody would use it and keeping the price low was the biggest goal. So they put in a very very cheap, worthless radio. All that really results in is a slightly higher price, more UI clutter, and probably slightly reduced battery life.

    Any mandate like this would likely result in the same course of action, mostly causing harm. Of course, mandating radios in telephones isn't one of the enumerated Powers of Congress last I looked, so I can't blame the *AA or corrupt politicians quite so much as the People who let them get away with this nonsense. And, perhaps ultimately, they'll be the ones who wind up shouldering the outcome with crappier phones.

  • by mlts (1038732) * on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @07:45AM (#33274482)

    Don't forget the FM radio arena has been abandoned by virtually everyone. You might hear a radio blasting at a construction site because it is cheaper than someone attaching a MP3 player, but that essentially is it.

    15 years ago, FM radio was different. New bands played all the time.

    Now, FM radio is not worth the time of day. "Rock" stations are in a time warp and are still playing Blind Melon, Smashing Pumpkins, and Nirvana as the absolute latest music they bother to listen to. You might catch a 1 hour show at midnight on a Friday that has recent music, but that is essentially it. To boot, it is the same songs, about 100-400 that play over and over.

    This is also an issue with other stations, be it hip-hop, country, Tejano, or one's genre of choice -- the vibrancy that radio used to have about 15-20 years ago is lost. People don't click on a FM radio station to hear new stuff, they go to last.fm or Pandora.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @07:45AM (#33274484)

    There is only one reason why you need a radio - in case they broadcast an emergency event.
    But as most people are listening to MP3's or reading emails- nobody will hear them.

    Radio has been superseded by SMS alerts - Cyclone/Bush Fire. In Australia they just got it sorted out by mobile tower location.

    Even better would be to have SMS alerts hooked up to GPS , or some kind of filter. It sure would be handy to set groupings (firemen, police, doctors, people with earthmoving equipment) before the next earthquake hits.

  • by Telecommando (513768) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @07:47AM (#33274516)

    Personally, I'd rather have a digital TV in my phone. Several of the local stations broadcast weather radar and alerts on one of their sub channels. It would be very useful when out and about.

  • I'm all for it... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Izhido (702328) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @07:53AM (#33274564) Homepage

    ... even if only to force Google to activate the d@#+ FM radio the Nexus One is supposed to have...

  • by Pojut (1027544) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @07:54AM (#33274570) Homepage

    The RIAA is just pissed of because it's finally realizing how useless they are at this point.

    You no longer need a multi-million dollar studio to produce professional-sounding audio, nor do you need widespread advertising in "traditional" ways to get popular. $10,000 will buy you all the instruments, equipment, and distribution you need. Depending on your music, it likely will require even less than that.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @07:58AM (#33274602)

    You raise an interesting point. How is this any different from a monopoly abusing it's position.

    When a large company with a monopoly makes a decision, do you get to vote for a representative that is making that decision? Does everyone? The difference here is that the government is elected by the people, for the people and is thus theoretically acting for the common good. Companies are acting to maximize profit with no regard for the common good.

    Please to not infer from my previous comments that I'm in favor of the proposed mandate. But at least I can vote and try to get others to vote the corrupt scumbags out of office. There are a lot of problems with or government, but people can put in the effort and we could fix things. I actually think there is room for a real grassroots movement (not promoted by an advertising agency on behalf of people with vested interests). I'd vote for an independent candidate whose platform was to make lobbying by corporations and foreign governments completely illegal, and I think a lot of other people would too. I'd vote for a candidate who promised to vote for electoral reform and destroy the two party lock-in. Put up a few posters and ads that read "The Republicans and Democratic parties are both full of corrupt dirtbags in the pockets of Wall Street fat cats. Lets clean house!" I bet there are a lot of people like me who are angry at and sick of the status quo and would go for a reform party who actually tried to make a real change and expelled members who were demonstrably corrupt or dishonest.

  • by jrmcferren (935335) <robbie.mcferren@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @08:00AM (#33274632) Journal

    Actually I think it is a good idea, but NOT for what they want it for. A way for your cell phone to allow you to get Emergency Alert System notifications is a good idea. But for broadcast reception, they can't put what I want in a cell phone without making it large (ferrite bar antenna) and without a hell of a lot of RFI suppression. I would love to have AM, FM of course would be added on for those who don't have wonderful AM stations or who are a wuss.

  • by kidgenius (704962) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @08:05AM (#33274688)
    Here's the thing though, you also have super mega corporations on the other side that are vehemently against this. The fact that CEA knows about this and is already speaking out should give you some hope. In this instance, you have mega corporations fighting on your side against mega corporations that aren't on your side. Both parties have plenty of cash to come to the table. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Nokia, Verizon, ATT, TMobile and Sprint could all potentially be against this. NAB and RIAA for. I'll take the technologists in this one. I do have an interesting question...let's say that this somehow passed, and they were mandated to put FM radio tuners into all phones. I could easily see that the manufacturers would have FM on their chips, but either A) Turn off the capability to use it (like the Nexus One) or B) Make teh FM reception so piss-poor as to be near useless. The manufacturers could point and say "Look, we put em in there, you never said anything about making them work, or even work well. Sorry"
  • Re:radio? really!? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sunshinerat (1114191) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @08:06AM (#33274708)

    We should all read between the lines. It is not about mandating an FM receiver in each phone, it is about adding broadcasting fees to each phone bill.

  • by Pojut (1027544) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @08:49AM (#33275122) Homepage

    Note that the "$10,000" figure included all equipment...this includes instruments and microphones. I realize you can do it for much cheaper (and, depending on your genre of music, much cheaper), but factoring in high-quality mics, a solid-quality drum set, and good quality guitars/amps, $10,000 isn't all that unreasonable.

    Again, that includes everything...instruments, cables, computer, software, hardware...everything. You can, of course, just spend $200 on a decent USB MIDI controller, $300 on a decent DAW, and do everything in software...but that's why I said it all depends :-)

  • In Other News... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DarkKnightRadick (268025) <the_spoon.geo@yahoo.com> on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @09:12AM (#33275400) Homepage Journal

    In other news the RIAA and broadcast radio stations all become utterly irrelevant in less than 10 years time. In 15 years time it's "RIAA who?" and "What's FM/AM?"

    Want to listen to streaming music on the go?

    Pandora
    Grooveshark
    Last.fm

    And I'm sure there are a host of others. Want to download that music? emusic and sites like it exist and have existed for decades (anyone remember mp3.com before they were sued?). The fact that the RIAA is still relevant today is a miracle of pure momentum and PR-blitz that has been going on since the original Napster hit the scene. The fact that broadcast radio is still around is pure momentum and the fact that putting in cd players that read MP3s is still an option in many cars (as is the CD-player itself). I'm not one to believe that the car manufacturers are in cahoots with broadcast radio (much like they are claimed to be in cahoots with the oil industry (a lot more believable considering the money involved in oil)), but it sure does smack of it considering the availability of CDs since at least as early as 1980 (with a prototype being shown in 1979 [wikipedia.org]). We are now 30 years on into not only the digital audio revolution, but 50 years or more into the computer revolution. No SSDs of substantial size in cars to store audio (or even movies and images for those long drives) in a vehicle yet? When SSD technology is arguably 70 years old [wikipedia.org]?

    I guess maybe the broadcast radio folks are in cahoots with car manufacturers because, aside from supposed cost to implement, I see no reason why your average, non-Green car shouldn't have some (if not all) of these as standard features.

  • Vote Pirate (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @09:26AM (#33275542) Homepage Journal

    But at least I can vote and try to get others to vote the corrupt scumbags out of office

    In the United States, neither the Republican platform nor the Democratic platform includes rolling back the entertainment industry land-grabs of the 105th Congress. All three bills I'm thinking of (NET Act, Bono Act, DMCA) passed both houses by a voice vote. I'll believe you once a Pirate [pirate-party.us] gets elected to Congress.

    I actually think there is room for a real grassroots movement (not promoted by an advertising agency on behalf of people with vested interests).

    They tried that in 2008 with Ron Paul. But at the primary debates, Paul couldn't a word in edgewise because the MPAA controls the TV news media [pineight.com].

  • But how much of that "difficulty" is because the cartels are allowed to engage in monopolistic behavior by the government? I was playing in a college band in the late 90s that was quite popular across a couple of states. Because I was the phone number listed on the contact sheet I got no less than a half a dozen calls from DJs with variations on this theme "Hey, could you tell your fans not to call us? It doesn't matter that we like the band, or even the fact we have showed up and broadcast you guys live before, we are not allowed to play a SINGLE song not on the corporate approved list. So could you please tell them to stop calling?".

    And if anything the record companies, thanks to them owning the gateways to avenues like radio, have become more evil than ever. We were offered contracts twice and told them where they could put them, because the contracts you will be offered nowadays gives you NOTHING for your digital rights, gives them the rights to ALL songs recorded, basically it is the most blatant one sided contract you've ever seen and you'd have to be an idiot to sign it. One of the bands we toured with thought we were nuts and signed, they ended up breaking up and being unable to work with each other simply so they could get out of their contract. The record company didn't even pay for a decent studio or new instruments but by the time they got done with their "Hollywood Accounting" the band owed something like 400k, when they didn't even get 10k upfront.

    So yeah, it means longer hours and a little more hard work to stay indie, but it is a hell of a lot better than the alternative. for every band you see on MTV the record companies have stolen the work of and ripped off another 100 bands and left them broke without even the rights to play the songs they wrote. No thanks.

  • Indeed, I get baffled by the complaint that without the RIAA, no artist would be massively popular.

    That would be a good thing. (Have you tried buying damn tickets to a concert lately?)

    We'd be much better off for all sorts of reasons if there were hundred times as many 'popular' groups, each with a hundredth the fanbase, and no one using the RIAA at all to promote their stuff. The only people worse off would be the RIAA and (possibly) the tiny percentage of bands that the RIAA chooses to make popular.

    People forget we used to have much the same thing for Hollywood stars. Studios would lock them into multi-picture contracts and promote the hell out of them, they'd make no money, and they'd get discarded at the end or when popularity dipped. But it was the only game in town...it's not like there was anyone else making movies, just like there's no one else getting songs on the radio.

    So actors unionized.

    We still have super stars who can't act worth a damn, we still have crap being shoved down our throat, but there's actually room for independent stuff. (And independent films are a hell of a lot more work than independent music.)

    We don't have studios signing up every new actor that walks into Hollywood, and then ignoring 95% of them, like the music industry does. Or, hell, a better analogy with the music industry would be to charge them to be in movies, and they only get the money back if the movie makes a profit, which would suck, as studios do the same crazy record-keeping that the music industry does, where nothing makes a profit.

    It's hardly perfect, but the movie industry seems to operate a lot better than the music industry. Yeah, yeah, there's plenty of complaints about how that industry decides to make movies entirely by computer based on what it thinks people like, like the music industry, and comes out solely with sucky pre-digested crap, but you're going to get that behavior out or any large business.

    But now it has to behave somewhat reasonably towards actors and writers and stuff. And people aren't stuck in contracts with companies that don't care about them, so they can go do independent films and, now, web films, and do okay.

    And like I said, a lot of the stuff stopping independent films was the expense, and the fact they didn't have a good distribution model unless a major studio stepped in. (Note, the studios step in after...they don't go around signing the filmmakers up, charging them for the privilege of making a movie, and then letting it die, so whatever you think of them, they're better than music studios.) Those facts have just changed for film, and the movie industry is dealing...unlike the music industry, which had those fact change a decade ago, and still hasn't dealt with it.

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @11:10AM (#33276876) Journal
    Hear, hear! I'm over 40, was "raised on radio", and I still remember radio being pretty awesome. These days, when I'm driving (ride a motorcycle most of the time) there aren't enough presets on it to properly accomodate the "dance of the stations" I do constantly between about 10 different stations in my market, trying to find something to listen to that doesn't suck. Oddly enough one of those 10 stations is a low-power student-operated station run out of a local high school that plays a surprisingly fresh and eclectic mix of genres; this is what radio should be!
  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @02:08PM (#33279430)

    It was leftist and authoritarian. These days, leftists are usually of the authoritarian persuasion: Chavez, Castro, Pelosi, etc. They've descended from authoritarian leftists like Stalin. Generally, when leftists get into power, they want to push their beliefs on everyone with authoritarian means, because otherwise no one would accept their changes. Sure, there's non-authoritarian leftists, like hippies, but they don't get involved in politics, and they're dying out.

    As for rightists, yep, they're usually authoritarian too. Instead of trying to push bad social policies on everyone, they want to push bad religious policies on everyone, and are generally members of the Republican party.

    So, if you're an American, you have a choice between authoritarian leftists (the Democrats), or authoritarian rightists (the Republicans). If you're smart, you won't vote for either of them, because you're guaranteed to get authoritarianism (and especially, corporate control over government). However, most Americans aren't very smart.

  • by lowrydr310 (830514) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @02:42PM (#33279920)
    I have a FM tuner in my android-based smartphone. I don't use it because I rarely listen to FM radio anymore. I can't find enough stations with programming that I enjoy, and there are too many annoying commercials. Why bother with that when I can use Pandora, or buy the songs that I like in MP3 format?

    Another big problem, for me at least, is that the NYC radio market is absolute garbage if you don't listen to mainstream top-40 crap, hip-hop, or Spanish (Latin American) music. Fortunately there are two awesome alternatives that I do listen to regularly when I'm in my car. The best station (and only station that plays modern rock/metal) is a college station [wsou.net] that's commercial free, and the next best thing also happens to be a college radio station [columbia.edu] (I didn't know this; just found out now when searching the link!).
  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @04:03PM (#33281018) Homepage Journal

    Specifically I know plenty of people with smartphones who would much sooner give up the phone portion of their device than their mobile internet access.

    Those people, like me, can buy iPod Touches. It's my primary personal computer these days.

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