AAPL Stock: 117.81 ( -0.22 )

Printed from

NAB, RIAA would force MP3 players, phones to carry FM radio

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.

by MacNN Staff



  1. bjojade

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What about AM?

    If they are going to force FM radios be installed in everything, they better force them to include AM as well!!

    This is the most absurd thing I've heard yet from the RIAA. Guess I shouldn't be surprised....

  1. sglewis

    Joined: Dec 1969


    a what now?

    FM who? Seriously (or should I say Siriusly), can we just leave my iPod Touch alone? I use it for podcasts, video, Sirius streaming, MP3 playing, and every now and then I use a radio app to play a local ballgame or something... but over the Internet. My car has a FM tuner, it's tuned to a station that picks up Sirius via FM modulation. I think we have a stereo or two in the house that technically could tune to FM, but why?

  1. TheSnarkmeister

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It's time to be done with these Bozos

    This is ridiculous in the extreme, like requiring that electricity can only be sold when bundled with candles. It only emphasizes all the more the degree to which this group is a protectionist cartel trying desperately to save its dying business model.

  1. robttwo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    As a working musician let me say I support the RIAA. I support them folding their tent and going away for good. These jerks DO NOT support the artists and songwriters, only the big corporations that have screwed musicians for decades. Now that their demise is imminent, they keep trying last-gasp efforts to keep the cash flowing, the artist enslaved, and the public paying. They still haven't even figured out what's what with cassettes!
    RIAA can kiss my a**. Then die.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. sibeale1

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Why not FM?

    I think that some of the posters here are reacting to the idea of being "forced" into having FM on their devices. Fair enough. But I think there is a good case for having FM. Especially HDFM. Where I live, there is an excellent FM classical music station nearby in Boston. The programming is great and so is the commentary. I wish I could get it on my car radio. Unfortunately, the station doesn't reach here. I can catch the web stream when I'm near a wi-fi node, like at home, but not while I'm driving. However, the station is also streamed as an HD channel on a co-owned station that does reach my area. If I could receive this HD channel on my iPhone, all would be bliss.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I just heard Steve Jobs sigh...

    It appears he's been relatively opposed to allowing FM operation in the iPods after all these years. It's sort of odd since the chips are capable of supporting it. I always assumed that Apple was worried FM capability would cut into purchasing music or something to that effect. Otherwise, what else could have been the reason. I don't listen to FM radio, but I'm sure it must be useful to lots of people.

  1. ebeyer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    not the point

    The issue isn't whether or not having FM in a portable device would be nice. It *could* be. The issue is whether or not every single device should be required to have FM capability, even for those on which it would be very difficult (shuffle) or on devices whose owners have no interest in using FM. Since I got my first iPod nearly nine years ago I have had little use for the FM in my car. That is not a bad thing.

  1. dimmer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Dear lord...

    It'd be one thing to "Strongly suggest" or something, but to make an FM Radio required is total nonsense -- did no-one at NAB or RIAA have some responsibility in making sure that they didn't make insane, inane demands that are laughable?

    It's not like you can't get an MP3 player with an FM radio if -you- want it...

    Now, making them all play my cassettes and 78's, THAT would be a thing!

  1. MacMan2000

    Joined: Dec 1969



    ok, along with this, i think that the weather alert system / safety alert system "NOAA" should require all car radios, mobile devices, cell phones ect to interrupt everything on the device in an emergency situation. This includes playing movies, mps'3 cd's tapes whatever! i have a friend that back in 2001, was on her way home to New Jersey, listening to cd's and didnt know anything about the towers and the alerts that had been issued until she got to the city and turned the radio on. I think ensuring the safety of people is more important than me getting to listen to mike and mike or rush! Oh wait. i listen to am as well for npr and things like that... why are they not being pushed as well?

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    no problem....

    It's sort of odd since the chips are capable of supporting it.

    Then Apple's all set. They said the devices must include the chips. Do they say that the device actually has to support it and allow the user to listen to FM radio?

    If so, does it specify it must reach the entire FM band? Could Apple just allow FM 107.9 and not let you change it?

    Of course, this all comes down to: If people listen to music on FM, the station makes ad money and the 'artists' get their performance fees (um, yeah, it's all about the artist!). If you listen to music on your iPod, no one gets paid. It is so unfair!

Login Here

Not a member of the MacNN forums? Register now for free.


Network Headlines

Follow us on Facebook


Most Popular


Recent Reviews

Ultimate Ears Megaboom Bluetooth Speaker

Ultimate Ears (now owned by Logitech) has found great success in the marketplace with its "Boom" series of Bluetooth speakers, a mod ...

Kinivo URBN Premium Bluetooth Headphones

We love music, and we're willing to bet that you do, too. If you're like us, you probably spend a good portion of your time wearing ...

Jamstik+ MIDI Controller

For a long time the MIDI world has been dominated by keyboard-inspired controllers. Times are changing however, and we are slowly star ...


Most Commented