updated 04:25 pm EDT, Tue August 17, 2010
NAB and RIAA would require FM in return for bill
The NAB and RIAA have proposed a compromise for a bill that could theoretically force all portable media devices to include FM radios. Under a yet to be formal suggestion for the Performance Rights Act, they would allow $100 million in performance royalties a year but would demand FM chips in MP3 players, smartphones and many other devices. Supporters have argued to Ars Technica and to legislators that forced radio would provide "more music choices."
The Consumer Electronics Association has staunchly objected to the proposal and called it the "height of absurdity," according to its president Gary Shapiro. He likened the proposed requirement to propping up dying technology at the expense of users. A large number of devices like the iPod nano already have FM radio, but the move would hike the prices and dictate the interfaces of devices; an iPod shuffle would be difficult or impossible, as it would need a larger body and possibly more controls to tune stations.
"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," Shapiro said.
The NAB has tried to dismiss the CEA objections by claiming that trade groups "always oppose new rules." It made analogies to the group objecting to digital TV tuners in HDTVs as evidence of short-sightedness, although the connection is misleading as it references requirements for a newer technology versus attempts to support a technology in decline.
Both the NAB and RIAA have historically taken steps to attempt to legally enforce their existing business models, including attempts to promote three-strikes laws and promoting stiffer penalties for piracy than for other, more serious crimes.