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Congress Eyes TV, Radio Issues as Session Counts Down

- AM Radio, Wireless Cable Retrans Consent

Members of Congress are back at work in DC after their summer recess amid uncertainty over major appropriations bills, a threatened government shutdown and rumors of impeachment fever with just weeks left in the session. But automakers’ threat to remove AM Radio from cars and a growing dispute over how certain TV retransmission consent payments are negotiated are gaining lawmakers’ attention – and even hearing time.

AM Radio

The AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act, which is being championed in the Senate by Texas’ own Sen. Ted Cruz, has drawn 34 co-sponsors in the Senate and 150 co-sponsors in the House since it was filed just three and a half months ago.

That’s an impressive tally fueled by record levels of constituent concerns and grassroots lobbying by local Radio broadcasters.

The issue is extraordinarily bipartisan, with Cruz’ political polar opposite, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, partnering with him to advance the measure in the upper chamber where the 34 co-sponsors are made up of 17 Republicans, 16 Democrats, and one Independent.

Of the 150 House sponsors, 79 are Republicans and 71 are Democrats.

The 11 Texas members of the House signing on to date include:

  • Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio
  • Rep. Michael Cloud, R-Corpus Christi
  • Rep. Monica De La Cruz, R-Edinburg
  • Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Houston
  • Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston
  • Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin
  • Rep. Nathaniel Moran, R-Tyler
  • Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Richmond
  • Rep. Chip Roy, R-Wimberley
  • Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Waco
  • Rep. Roger Williams, R-Cleburne

The Senate version of the bill is further along in the process where it’s been heard in committee and ordered to be reported favorably as substituted. The House version is being vetted by three different committees and was heard in the Energy & Commerce Committee in June.

Provisions of the AM4EVA! Bill (HR 3413/S 1669)

  • Require the Secretary of Transportation, within one year of enactment, to issue a rule under which motor vehicles made or imported into the US would be required to include an installed device, as standard equipment, that can receive AM radio (including analog) signals and play AM content;
  • Ensure that AM is conspicuous to the driver in the dash; 
  • In the period between enactment and prior to the Transportation Secretary issuing the new rule, require motor vehicles that do not include AM radio to be labeled as such to consumers in a clear and conspicuous manner; and
  • Direct the GAO to report on whether an alternative communication system for delivering EAS alerts exists that is as reliable and resilient as AM broadcast stations.

Wireless Cable Retransmission Consent

The key TV issue before Congress involves how retransmission consent payments with wireless cable systems – otherwise known as subscription streaming services – are negotiated with non-network-owned stations.

The dispute is described at length in this recent TVNewsCheck story and set for a Congressional hearing Sept. 13 at 1PM CDT before the Communications & Technology subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce.


Three Texans serve on the subcommittee, including Reps. Lizzie Fletcher, D-Houston; August Pfluger, R-San Angelo; and Marc Veasey, D-Dallas.

The hearing, entitled “Lights, Camera, Subscriptions: State of the Video Marketplace”, will feature representatives from FuboTV, America Connects Association, Consumer Reports, and NAB President & CEO Curtis LeGeyt.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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