In response to a growing trend among car manufacturers to exclude traditional AM radio from their vehicles, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers has proposed legislation that would require automakers to retain the ability for drivers to tune in to the airwaves dominated by conservative talk radio.
Variety reports that a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers has proposed legislation that would require automakers to keep AM radios in their vehicles, in response to a growing trend among automakers to remove the traditional feature from their cars.
The ‘AM for Every Vehicle Act’ was introduced on Wednesday in the House and Senate and has received backing from lawmakers from all political parties. Its goal is to compete with the growing number of electric vehicle producers, like Tesla, who have given up on the AM band claiming alleged interference with electric operating systems. Notably, Ford has also disclosed plans to remove AM radio from all of its new vehicles, raising concerns among those who support AM radio.
The bill is supported by Senators J.D. Vance (R-OH) and Ted Cruz (R-TX). Cruz called AM radio “a critical bulwark for democracy,” emphasizing the complaint of Mark Levin that the push to remove AM radio from new cars is political in nature. Levin said of the move, “They finally figured out how to attack conservative talk radio.” In the house, the bill is supported by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR) and Rep. Tom Kean, Jr. (R-NJ).
FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel in a statement, “There is a clear public safety imperative here. Having AM radio available in our cars means we always have access to emergency alerts and key warnings while we are out on the road. Updating transportation should not mean sacrificing access to what can be life-saving information.”
If the bill is approved, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will be charged with writing a rule requiring automakers to keep AM broadcast radio in their vehicles without requiring a separate or extra payment, fee, or surcharge. Until the bill is approved and new vehicles are compliant, a warning sticker indicating the lack of the band is required if cars are sold without AM radios.
While some automakers are still undecided, others, like Nissan, Hyundai, and Subaru, have said they do not intend to stop producing AM. Tesla and Volkswagen, two producers of electric cars, have stated that they are not interested in developing a technological remedy for AM interference in their automobiles, contending that mobile apps can be used to access AM stations.
“Although many automakers suggested that other communication tools – such as internet radio – could replace broadcast AM radio,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), “in an emergency, drivers might not have access to the internet and could miss critical safety information. The truth is that broadcast AM radio is irreplaceable.”