A FACT-BASED RESPONSE TO THE CRITICS OF RADIO-CAPABLE CELL PHONES

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Radio Facts: https://blog.nab.org/2010/08/25/cell-phones/A FACT-BASED RESPONSE TO THE CRITICS OF RADIO-CAPABLE CELL PHONESby Dennis WhartonThe response from critics to NAB’s support for the inclusion of radio receivers on mobile phone devices sold in the U.S has been predictable and follows a customary Washington tactic: Arguments against this pro-consumer feature have been long on exaggeration, rhetoric and factual inaccuracies.It’s time to set the record straight:Radio’s audience is GROWING. According to the most recent report from Arbitron, the ratings company that tracks radio listeners, radio reaches more than 239 million American listeners age 12 and older. That figure represents an INCREASE of seven million listeners in just one year. Any claim that radio is “dying,” “declining” or “losing listeners” is simply not accurate. Indeed, just this weekend, The New York Times called radio “a classic evolutionary survivor” in an article detailing the history of media and technological consumption changes.When given the choice, consumers like radio-capable cell phones. In fact from a global perspective, it’s expected that there will be roughly 700 million FM-capable cell phones on the market by next year, representing 45 percent of all active cell phones.

— A 2008 study from TNS found that 45 percent of mobile users in Latin America and Asia cite AM/FM radio as one of their top three reasons for purchasing a mobile phone — making it more popular than mobile Internet access, texting and a camera function. Read the study here.— A recent study from research firm Alan Burns & Associates shows that 47 percent of women in the U.S. and nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of female early adopters would buy a different cell phone if that phone contained a built-in FM receiver. Fifty-four percent said they would listen to local radio more if they had a radio-enabled mobile phone. Read the study here (and see slide 62 for details).— A 2008 study commissioned by NAB’s technology advocacy program, NAB FASTROAD, concluded that the growth of FM capability in mobile hand sets is “very robust” from a global perspective, and expected to reach 45 percent by 2011. Read the study here (and see pp. 18 for global penetration data.)

Radio serves as an information lifeline during times of crisis. Whether it’s lifesaving information provided during Hurricane Katrina, evacuation information broadcast during the terrorist attacks of September 11, or a missing child saved with an AMBER Alertlocal radio stations are uniquely positioned to reach their listeners with timely, critical information. It’s why the American Red Cross and FEMA routinely advise Americans to carry a portable radio in their emergency safety kits. Don’t take my word for it: Here is how authorities in Alabama conveyed information to residents when a tornado touched down in April:How authorities in Alabama conveyed information to residents when a tornado touched down in April.Cell phone subscribers deserve access to radio’s free service. In a society where cell phones and other mobile devices are increasingly ubiquitous, it makes perfect sense to have radio-enabled chips in these devices, particularly from a public safety perspective.

The WARN Act, signed into law nearly four years ago, established a process by which cell phone providers volunteered to devise a system for reaching their subscribers during times of emergency. The cell phone industry’s answer to date has been a text-based system limited to 90 characters, which has still not yet been deployed. And while the mobile phone industry has continued to delay the launch of their text-based emergency alert system, citizens across the country have weathered numerous natural and terrorist-related disasters including the Virginia Tech shooting, the California wildfires, the devastating floods in Iowa and Tennessee, Snowmaggeddon 2010, and the Time Square bomb threat.In every instance, Americans faced each disaster and threat without the benefit of the cell phone industry’s text-based system.