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

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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  • If it was consumer focused, this feature would be advertised as a selling point on cell phones. Turns out it's not for several reasons. One is that, in my opinion, commercial radio sucks. I rarely listen to the radio and when I do it's some form of public radio. There's probably a number of size and power constraints as well that result in every single leading cell phone lacking this 'feature.'

    The two sides hope to strike a grand bargain: radio would agree to pay around $100 million a year (less than it feared), but in return it would get access to a larger market through the mandated FM radio chips in portable devices.

    Wait, wait, wait. What part of that deal was consumer focused?

    I think instead of 'consumer focused' you mean 'consumer manipulation' but to be fair they didn't define whether the focus was positive or negative.

    Take your market mandated regulations, take your backroom deals, take your advertisement laden radio, take your same damn song repetition and firmly shove them up your ass. Most importantly: leave me and device companies alone. You've already done far too much damage.

    And yes, I put my money where my mouth is and only buy music from labels unaffiliated with the RIAA and bands with no labels at all. I love sites that promote this like bandcamp and even Amazon MP3 occasionally. If you agree with me, do the same. Powerful lobbying has proven that it's the only way to stop this from our end.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @08:16AM (#33274240)

    Nobody is allowed to be out of hearing of the marketing.

    Now, I'm all for the manufacturers deciding to add a FM radio (HD radio as well) to a mobile music player, but *mandating* one?

  • by LingNoi ( 1066278 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @08:18AM (#33274252)

    You raise an interesting point. How is this any different from a monopoly abusing it's position. If the government went through with this how could they possibly fine any monopoly in the future for abuse when they've done it themselves.

    Surely this is illegal to begin with.

  • by Haedrian ( 1676506 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @08:18AM (#33274254)

    If you've got enough money, you can get any laws you want passed. Whenever some pro-consumer anti-large corporation law gets suggested, it gets shot down before you know it - anyone up for some Net Neutrality?

  • by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @08:19AM (#33274260)

    Perhaps I'm a dissenting voice here, but I actually do listen to broadcast radio, and I would love it if my android-based smart phone had an FM tuner in it. There are times when I don't have the music I want to listen to on the device, and I would tune in to either CBC 2 (classical music channel) or the local indy/alternative station.

    I don't think mandating it is a good idea. But I do think that if more manufacturers put them in smart phones the devices would find a market.

  • by buchanmilne ( 258619 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @08:21AM (#33274276) Homepage

    Surely the goal of customer-focused 'more music choices' is already achieved, due to the availability of some models of phones which have FM receivers? The biggest variety of music choice is already provided by phones which have FM receivers and FM transmitters (allowing users to also choose whether they want to listen to their digital music on their devices on car radio or similar), but I guess these groups wouldn't want to mandate FM transmitters ...

    Mandating that all phones have FM receivers sounds to be less customer-focused, customers already have choices at present.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @08:23AM (#33274290) Journal
    My last two (Nokia) phones both had FM receivers built in. It's a pretty standard feature, although not one that I've ever used. I'm not sure if manufacturers even bother advertising it anymore - a stand-alone portable FM receiver costs so little that it's not really a selling point.
  • by scsirob ( 246572 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @08:32AM (#33274352)

    but I bought my phone to make phone calls?!?
    - Not to listen to the radio
    - Not to play MP3
    - Not to watch movies
    - Not to vacuum the room
    - Not to bake breadrolls ..etc

    And that is my choise and I am perfectly happy with it.
    Thank you

  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @08:34AM (#33274364) Journal

    I for god sakes hope AM radio equipment is not portable, or the logical feedback loop could explode the universe!

    Some USB sticks can do more. Do they count? Does every mobile phone, no matter how simple now have to have a FM radio inside? What about official equipment. Walkie Talkie? GPS device?

    Insanity, thy name is the entertainment industry. Guess they did their job, I am quite entertained. If you can't laugh at the programs, then at least you can laugh at the people who make them.

  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @08:34AM (#33274368)
    Seriously aside from taking one product and attempting to turn it into a completely different product, why target FM? Don't you have digital radios which could be the "awesome next best thing in mobile phones" to put in there? What about satellite radio, we don't even have that here, but that could also be an awesome product.

    Why FM? People don't listen to the radio, people use the radio as a background piece of music. If I wanted to listen to the radio I wouldn't take an iPod to work, since there's already a radio playing faintly in the background. I mean it's not like this hasn't been put to a free market vote. I've seen cell phones advertised with FM radios. Half the people don't even know they have them.

    This makes no sense what so ever. I would have expected the *IAA to try and cut backroom deals with carriers to offer some kind of digital download service that is pay for play, but seriously FM? I mean this shit is free and people still don't use it. Even if it is included in every phone, who would use it that hasn't already bought a phone with FM receiver built in?
  • by lazybeam ( 162300 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @08:35AM (#33274372) Homepage

    One is that, in my opinion, commercial radio sucks.

    That's why I only listen to a non-commercial radio station :) [triplej.net.au] however its signal is not very strong on my mobile phone FM radio: entering a train kills it - though it does work on my car radio when I drive to work. I do like the idea of FM radio - it uses less battery power then playing an MP3 - but it doesn't tend to work very well in practice.

    If FM is going to be required, maybe all phones should also be able to send/receive faxes? It is an equivalently-obsoleted technology. My phone plan in 2001 actually had a separate "fax number" but when someone called it all I could do was "reject" since my phone couldn't handle it. It didn't take me long to get it permanently blocked.

    Wouldn't something like DAB+ reception be better than FM anyway? I've had FM reception in several of my phones, including my current one: they have all been (2G GSM) Nokias.

  • This will not pass (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mbone ( 558574 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @08:43AM (#33274460)

    This sort of thing would only pass if it could be done under the radar, so the fact that the CEA is fulminating against it means that its prospects are dim, and deservedly so.

  • Business Plan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frightened_Turtle ( 592418 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @08:44AM (#33274468) Homepage

    Once again, RIAA (along with others) is seeking a way to force its business plan/model into law. I can only say, if your business plan isn't working, it's time to change the way you do business or close the doors. NOT change the law!

    If people don't want your product or the way it is packaged, they won't buy it. If you want people to buy your product, then offer them something they actually want! Don't try to force consumers to buy something by forcing them to buy it because it is the law. Sink or Swim!

  • by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @08:57AM (#33274600)

    It wouldn't matter if our government decided to play along... if the US markets mandated it, then we wouldn't have a choice up here, since all of our cellular hardware is stuff that also gets sold in the states.

    Or do you honestly think that a hardware company like HTC is going to have two production lines: one with an FM tuner, one without, for a 3.5G HSDPA+ GSM phone running at 850/1700 for data? (that would be AT&T in the US, and Bell/Telus and Rogers in Canada)

    And she. There are some women who read slashdot....

  • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @08:59AM (#33274628)

    I personally would rather have the extra battery life instead of an FM receiver. I barely use the radio in my car as it is, and never the one in my house. If they want people to listen to radio again, as probably the underlying purpose of this misguided effort is, I would propose an immediate ban on ownership of more than 8 radio stations by any single entity and no more than 2 stations in any market. (ie, no more clear channel or infinity) Let's go back to individuals deciding what gets played on the radio and perhaps we'll get some truly interesting music back on the airwaves instead of the same "top 40" as decided by some tone deaf marketeer across the entire country.

  • by Trails ( 629752 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @09:23AM (#33274874)

    Good point, I hadn't considered the source of the hardware. Though I swear I found a GPS receiver whose power output was limited in the Canadian version despite using exactly the same hardware as the US version once. I think the possibility exists that the radio feature gets disabled in firmware by the vendor for whatever reason.

    Sure. But you're still paying for it.

  • by TheVelvetFlamebait ( 986083 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @09:33AM (#33274984) Journal

    And then, all you need is another $500,000 on promotion to differentiate yourself from the flood of other crappy garage band recordings. Creating music is and always was easy. Distributing music used to be difficult, but now it's easy. Advertising, making a name for yourself, and actually seeing any returns (financial or otherwise) from your distribution is still very difficult.

  • by TheVelvetFlamebait ( 986083 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @09:41AM (#33275054) Journal

    Sir, your deeply intellectual, logically unassailable argument has a majestic beauty and subtlety, but I can come up with a more compact version:

    "I don't like it, so therefore it's completely useless."

    I know, it lacks the grace of your argument, but I feel that the brevity really illuminates the logic of behind your reasoning.

  • by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @09:45AM (#33275090) Homepage

    That all depends on what you want to do with your music. The guy that lives on the first floor of our apartment complex is fairly popular locally, but at the moment he is just using the money he earns to save up for retirement. As for myself, I release all my music for free [www.last.fm] because it caters to a very small niche where there isn't too much available. I got started because I wanted to hear specific types of music, and was having a hard time actually finding it. Of course, now that I do it, I've come in contact with all kinds of people who make the same stuff...but I digress.

    If you're good enough, your music alone will make you more popular. The Very Small, a band made up of people I went to middle and high school with, played at the 9:30 Club [930.com] a couple of months ago (a place where people as big as Marylin Manson, John Mayer, Thievery Corporation, and Black Eyed Peas have played) They have also done a multi-coast tour, and are planning another one. Their advertising is done almost entirely through word-of-mouth and social networking sites.

    It's hard, but if your music is actually good, it will eventually happen on its own.

  • by tibman ( 623933 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @09:49AM (#33275126) Homepage

    At first i was agreeing with you.. but then i started thinking about groups who make money by promoting good bands. There are magazines dedicated to just this thing. People pay money to read a magazine about what bands rock, what bands suck, and where to get their music. There are probably blogs who make advert money doing the same thing. Why would a band pay a magazine for their content? The band isn't putting an ad in the magazine, they are the content itself. The magazine should be paying the bands for their time, right?

    If a band could pay money and get front page whether they are good or not.. nobody would read that piece of shit magazine. People want to find good music, not bands with deep pockets.

  • by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara.hudson@b ... u d s o n . c om> on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @09:59AM (#33275234) Journal

    AM radio is also dying.

    Mandatory AM Radio is next step.

    Newspapers are dying, and so are faxes.

    So the newspaper produces and fax manufactureres will mandate that your cell phone also receives FAXES - so you can receive a fax copy of your local NEWSPAPER without having to have an iPad and 500 megabytes to download one issue of Wired.

    GM is (still) dying.

    So GM will lobby that your cell phone also includes a CAR!

    And throw in the PoS otherwise known as ObamaCare! (after all, it's really a gift to the insurance industry).

    Real estate is (still) dying.

    So every cell phone should have A NEW HOME!



    And obviously run BSD, because "everyone knows" BSD is dying.

  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @10:02AM (#33275280) Homepage Journal

    Why get into a utilitarian argument when a principled one will do?

    From Federalist Paper Number 45 [conservativetruth.org]:

    The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.

    Did James Madison not know what the Constitution meant? Certainly it's flawed document - often vague - and other people would like it to mean different things, but the original intent is not hard to discern.

  • by knight24k ( 1115643 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @10:05AM (#33275316)

    Perhaps I'm a dissenting voice here, but I actually do listen to broadcast radio, and I would love it if my android-based smart phone had an FM tuner in it. There are times when I don't have the music I want to listen to on the device, and I would tune in to either CBC 2 (classical music channel) or the local indy/alternative station.

    My android has FM radio and I have used it exactly once. It was mostly out of curiosity and to check out how it worked. It is ok if I actually cared about anything broadcast radio played, but I don't. My android also is capable of playing MP3s which allows me to play whatever I want. So why would I want to listen to FM Radio? Except when I am driving to and from work, I don't listen to radio at all and even then I sometimes listen to my own CDs or pop in my Rosetta CD to practice my Russian.

    Frankly, I think this is just another power and money grab by NAB and RIAA. They have to know that the audience for FM radio on mobile devices, at least in the US, is practically nil, but they still can charge the mobile device manufacturers and/or the radio stations and collect yet more money. They have to know that users getting music over the air is declining rapidly, yet they will attempt to jam this down the consumer's throat and milk it for all the revenue they can.

    I am sure there is a small fraction of mobile device users that would use this feature. If the demand was there the device manufacturers would have already included it or would be actively working to include it in the near future. I have no problem with it being included in devices if it is due to consumer demand. Government mandates, on the other hand, are just a bad idea no matter what side of this fence you are sitting on.

  • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @10:13AM (#33275404)

    It's you - time moved on and in the entire world of communications plain voice chat is only a minor fraction of the overall landscape. Your post would be akin to 20 years ago someone posting:

    "Maybe it's just my age, but I bought my computer to manage my finances.

    - Not play games.
    - Not go on the "internets"
    - Not send messages to other people
    - Not create art or music

    If you want to limit yourself then fine, but I find it . . . odd . . . to look down upon anyone who doesn't want a version of the device that's cripple down to only it's most core functionality (a functionality whose role has been greatly diminished).

    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.

  • by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @10:15AM (#33275416)

    And then, all you need is another $500,000 on promotion to differentiate yourself from the flood of other crappy garage band recordings.
    Why would you need to do that?

    Creating music is and always was easy.
    Distributing music used to be difficult, but now it's easy.
    Good, if it were otherwise we would have somehow slipped in technological advancement.

    Advertising, making a name for yourself, and actually seeing any returns (financial or otherwise) from your distribution is still very difficult.

    But presumably, it isn't difficult making a name for yourself enough to create a small, but sustainable presence if what you seek to do is make a living through live performance? Certainly it wouldn't be a rock-star lifestyle, but why exactly, do I care if that lifestyle is supported?

    Tell me, if it weren't for that $500,000 advance, would rock-stars cease to exist? Of course not. Some local bands would somehow figure out a way to expand their appeal to a more general audience, and eventually build up world wide support. In the absense of any 'angel benefactor' tossing a pile of money in your lap, it might take a bit longer, but it wouldn't be impossible.

    And isn't that similar to the situation today? Not everyone gets to be a rock star now, and not everyone would get to be a rockstar if every major label dried up overnight. Some, however, would find it possible to reach that level on their own, especially if a void existed in the market.

    But it really comes down to this:

    Why is it so important that someone have the ability to reach rock-star level status? Especially when the emerging system seems to support a lot more local/small (and innovative) musicians rather than the old system in which these small-scale bands actually DID have a hard time even getting to the point where they could make ends meet.

    That pop-stars are rare isn't really a problem. It wasn't a problem from 1300AD - 19th century. And I doubt it was anything essential from the 19th century until now.

  • by ari_j ( 90255 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @10:25AM (#33275530)
    The vast majority of people do want to pay $5/month to be told what music they should claim to like. They're not looking for good music, they're looking for what opinions they should have in order to fit in with their peers.
  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @10:30AM (#33275598) Journal
    Hate to break it to you, my friend, but the article *IS* the ad. It's the same with David Letterman, Jon Stewart, Jay Leno, and the others. The bulk of their guests are selling something: their latest movie, the book they wrote, the CD they just released. Sure, you will get the occasional guest that's there purely for popular interest. That's just for camouflage. They are there to make you believe that the show is not an infomercial.

    It's the same way with promotional magazines. Sure, you may get an article or two covering some interesting trend, but the articles that focus on the band are advertising the band.
  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @10:37AM (#33275662) Homepage Journal

    I gots no mod points - someone mod this guy to the moon, please.

    We don't NEED no steenking rock stars. A couple dozen stars making gazillions of dollars, while the rest eat leftover beans just sucks. People who love making music should be able to make a living. The ones who are really good at it should make a great living. But, freaks running around buying up multi-million dollar condos, million dollar cars, and multi-million dollar jets and yachts is just ridiculous. None of them are WORTH IT!!

    And, if any of them really were worth it, he/she/they would have made it without a major label backing them anyway.

    Just do away with the labels, FFS

  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @11:06AM (#33276006) Homepage Journal

    To convince our government to say NO!

    "The Consumer Electronics Association, whose members build the devices that would be affected by such a directive, is incandescent with rage"

    Me? I'm merely smoking a little. No one has noticed yet.

    "The two sides hope to strike a grand bargain: radio would agree to pay around $100 million a year (less than it feared), but in return it would get access to a larger market through the mandated FM radio chips in portable devices."

    Oh yeah, access is good. Now, who's going to convince the masses to turn ON those chips?

    But wait, there's more...

    It won't be long before the radio (and music) industry will want a tax on radios. They are already trying this by feeing the stations now on the air, and Internet stations. Next would be a tax on receivers. How convenient, millions of new receivers. The tax won't be much, a few bucks per unit. Of course, the new receivers in phones would pretty much quadruple the number of units, and presto, profit!

    Outrageous. This is an excellent opportunity. Congress, just say no...

  • by cybersquid ( 24605 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @11:17AM (#33276130) Homepage

    We have a war on 2 fronts, a damaged economy and climate change. Still congress has the free cycles to sell out the public interest in return for some bribes (I mean lobbying fees).

    Maybe we should fire them? Anybody have a list of which representatives supported this?

    After all, they're supposed to be representing their constituents.

  • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @12:30PM (#33277182)

    Success were those radio stations that were the most popular in their markets and could charge higher fees for commercials, thus also being more successful financially.

    These current radio stations weren't successful. They were bought by investment groups in order to monopolize a limited resource from a previously tightly controlled market. This does not qualify as "success" to me but seems more like Mafia tactics.

    Think of this situation: we have a big barrel of water with 6 faucets. Before, separate entities each controlled 1 faucet and while faucet rights could be sold, no one could control more than 1 faucet. If you didn't like the price at 1 faucet, you could always go to the next. Now the regulation of only being able to control 1 faucet is lifted, and the local group of thugs, err, enterprising underhanded shifty businessmen, get together and buy the right to 4 faucets, then start charging a lower rate than the other 2 can afford to stay in business, then buy them out too. Now they control all 6 faucets, and start mixing in squash flavor into all water dispensed as well as raising prices, because the squash flavor guy gets proceeds from the increase in squash candy that the populace is now more attuned to thanks to the flavor "enhancement". This kills off the various independent fruit candy makers, because the squash flavoring causes the fruit flavors to take on an unpleasant taste. There is no other source of water in this case.

    If you truly wanted a free market, then the current monopoly on bandwidths used by these stations would need to be allowed to be used by all (not practically feasible I know)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @04:59PM (#33280964)

    What kind of power does a GPS RECEIVER emit ?

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.