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Cruz Leads Congressional Effort to Mandate AM Radio in Cars Sold in U.S.

An extraordinary and broad bipartisan congressional effort to mandate AM radio in new cars sold in the U.S. launched this past week with the filing of companion Senate and House bills.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Houston, is co-author of S. 1669, the “AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act” along with fellow Republican Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, and Democratic Sens. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, and Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico.

The House bill, H.R. 3413, is co-authored by Republican Reps. Tom Kean Jr. of New Jersey and Bruce Westerman of Arkansas, and Democratic Reps. Josh Gottheimer and Rob Menendez of New Jersey, and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington.

These members of Congress also hold significant roles on key Senate and House committees that have jurisdiction over the bills.

The legislation would:

  • 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.

The Washington Post reported Monday that the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a June hearing to “hear testimony from public safety experts about why they think AM radio is still essential for vehicles.“

Will congressional pressure on auto manufacturers have an effect?

On Tuesday, Ford CEO Jim Farley announced an about face on AM availability.

"After speaking with policy leaders about the importance of AM broadcast radio as a part of the emergency alert system, we've decided to include it on all 2024 Ford & Lincoln vehicles. 

For any owners of Ford EVs without AM broadcast capability, we’ll offer a software update,” Farley tweeted.

There is no guarantee, however, that Ford will offer AM beyond its 2024 vehicle lineup.

Several major U.S. and foreign automakers have already eliminated or announced plans to permanently eliminate AM radio from their new electric vehicles saying the AM band is subject to interference issues from electric motor technology.  

Some even plan to eliminate AM radios in combustible engine vehicles saying the band is simply antiquated and is not technology with a high consumer demand.

Manufacturers say the AM radio demographic is not growing – it is getting smaller and older.

Broadcasters counter that AM radio is the backbone of the U.S. emergency warning and communications system.

It also provides unique programming for underserved communities and is the primary band featuring stations offering conservative-themed programming.

AM radio stations also offer an entry point to station ownership possibilities for minorities and other underserved communities.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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