Congress is trying to stave off the death of AM radio as car companies drop it from their new EV models

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are pushing to keep AM radio in the nation’s cars.

A bipartisan group in Congress has introduced the “AM for Every Vehicle Act.” the bill called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require automakers to keep AM radios in new cars at no extra cost.

The legislation would also require automakers that sell cars manufactured before the proposed regulation goes into effect to let buyers know if the vehicles don’t come with AM radios.

Supporters of preserving AM radio in cars cite public safety concerns. The sponsors of the bill expressed on Wednesday the historic role of AM radio in transmitting important information during emergencies, such as communication during disasters, especially to people in rural areas.

“Carmakers shouldn’t have to tune AM radio in new cars or put them behind an expensive digital paywall,” Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a statement. He added that the bill aims to “ensure that this strong and popular communication tool does not become a relic of the past.”

The proposed legislation comes as many automakers are dropping broadcast AM radio from their new models. According to Markey’s office, eight of the 20 largest auto companies — incl TeslaBMW and Ford – removed it from their electric cars.

Carmarkers cite interference from electric motors that can cause static and noise in AM transmissions. Some have suggested that internet radio or other communication tools could replace AM radio. But Markey and others are pushing back — pointing to situations where drivers may not have internet access.

“The reality is that broadcast AM radio is irreplaceable,” Markey said in March.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a US group representing major automakers, criticized the proposed legislation, calling the AM radio mandate unnecessary.

The trade group pointed to FEMA’s Integrated Public Alerts and Warning System, which can distribute safety warnings over AM, FM, internet-based and satellite radio — as well as cellular networks.

“This is only a bill to support and give preference to a particular technology that is currently competing with other communication options and adapting to changing audiences,” said the alliance, while adding that automakers are committed to ensuring drivers have access to alerts and public safety. warnings.

The Federal Communications Commission and National Association of Broadcasters, on the other hand, praised the law, which was also supported by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, DN.J., Rep. Tom Kean, Jr., RN. J., Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Wash., and others.

“Having AM radio available in our cars means we always have access to emergency alerts and important warnings while we’re on the road,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. “Updating transportation doesn’t have to mean sacrificing access to what could be life-saving information.”

Wednesday’s proposed legislation would also direct the Government Accountability Office to study whether “an alternative communications system” could be replicated and have the same effect as AM radio for sending emergency information.

According to National Association of Broadcasters and Nielsen data, more than 80 million people in the US listen to AM radio every month.

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