WASHINGTON -- Representatives from the National Association of Broadcasters wrote House and Senate leaders for both the Judiciary and the Commerce committees today to correct and clarify the record regarding "the important consumer benefit" that could be derived from "unlocking the mobile phone market and granting consumer access to radio's free and unique offerings." The letters were signed by NAB Joint Board Chair Steve Newberry, president and CEO of Kentucky-based Commonwealth Broadcasting; and NAB Radio Board Chair Caroline Beasley, executive vice president and CFO of Florida-based Beasley Broadcast Group.
Newberry and Beasley noted the strong weekly listenership -- 239 million Americans age 12 and older -- for free and local radio and highlighted the "crucial lifeline" provided by local radio stations during times of emergency and crises.
"Americans ought not be denied access to such a pivotal lifeline service," they wrote.
The letter referenced a recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive, which showed that a sizable majority of American cell phone users would like the ability to listen to their favorite local radio stations through a built-in radio receiver on their mobile phone. Newberry and Beasley also noted the global demand for radio-capable cell phones, pointing out that a recent study predicted market penetration for radio-capable devices will reach 45 percent within the next year.
"Despite such global demand, much of the U.S. cell phone market remains founded upon exclusive contracts between consumer electronics manufacturers and mobile phone carriers, and consumers are being denied access to radio's free services on many mobile phone devices for competitive reasons," today's letter explained. "Cell phone providers apparently would rather reap the revenue of data-intensive, fee-based streaming apps than offer consumers a free and local alternative."
"In the end, this is an issue of consumer access," wrote Newberry and Beasley. "Americans deserve better choices than what is being offered by gatekeeper mobile service providers. The demonstrated demand for radio-capable cell phones, coupled with local radio's role as a lifeline service during times of crisis, are considerations we hope you will take into account as this debate continues."
The National Association of Broadcasters is the premier advocacy association for America's broadcasters. NAB advances radio and television interests in legislative, regulatory and public affairs. Through advocacy, education and innovation, NAB enables broadcasters to best serve their communities, strengthen their businesses and seize new opportunities in the digital age. Learn more at www.nab.org.