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TAB Advances AM Radio, Journalism Preservation Efforts in Congress

- Small Window for Final Passage

A delegation of 16 Texas Radio and Television broadcasters pounded the marble floors of Congressional office buildings last week advancing efforts championed by Sen. Ted Cruz to preserve AM Radio in vehicles and to adopt a framework allowing publishers of journalism to collectively negotiate with individual Big Tech firms on terms of use for their content.

The AM Radio in Every Vehicle Act, H.R. 3413, was introduced last summer and has quickly garnered majority support in the House and the Senate with a nearly even split of Democrats and Republicans signing on to companion measures.

The bipartisan nature of the support was signaled early on as Cruz partnered with his political polar opposite, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., to introduce the legislation and call out the handful of electric vehicle makers who falsely claimed they couldn’t resolve interference between the electric motors and AM antenna. Most electric vehicle makers have had no trouble retaining AM Radio.

The legislation ensures that the seven million Texans and tens of millions more Americans who rely on AM Radio every day don’t lose access to their local stations and preserves the foundation of the country’s emergency communications system.

Industry observers note that many automakers are seeking ways to create ongoing subscription revenue from customers for various features, potentially including the local free, over-the-air broadcast service Radio stations are mandated to provide.


Preserving Local Journalism

Congressional efforts to preserve local journalism as Big Tech firms increasingly dominate the digital advertising ecosystem took off three years ago as champions in the House and Senate introduced legislation creating a temporary anti-trust exemption of no more than eight years to permit interested publishers to collectively negotiate terms of use for their content with individual Big Tech firms.

The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, S. 1094, does not mandate any particular outcome such as cash payments to news publishers and no such provisions are being proposed.  Participation in the negotiations would be voluntary and the biggest publishers, such as the New York Times and national broadcast networks, are prohibited from participating – a response to concerns the effort would result in a “Big Tech-Big Media” cartel.

Similar legislation in Australia and Canada did include payment provisions and independent research bolsters support for such consideration, including this study with ties to the University of Houston released March 6.

The measure was introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, and John Kennedy, R-Louisiana. In a Judiciary Committee mark-up last year, Sen. Cruz successfully negotiated an amendment prohibiting potential content moderation practices constituting censorship, prompting him to endorse the bill.

Texas’ senior Senator, John Cornyn, doesn’t serve on the Judiciary Committee, but has shared with TAB his concern for preserving local journalism and pledged to help support efforts to accomplish that.

House members leading the effort last session either retired or changed committees, so there’s no companion measure in the lower chamber at this time and strategies for advancing the effort there are under consideration.

Both the AM Radio and Journalism Preservation bills face a steep hill toward final passage as Congress strives to adopt multiple appropriations bills left unfinished from 2023 and lawmakers agitate to wrap most deliberations in the next couple months so they can break from DC to campaign for re-election.

TAB will keep members up to date on developments and timing for advocating directly with their elected congressional representatives.

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














Left to Right: D’Artagnan Bebel, KRIV-TV Houston; Paul Gleiser, ATW Media Tyler; Raquel Amparo, KTVT-TV Dallas-Fort Worth; David Abel, Cox Media Group San Antonio; Chad Gammage, Salem Media San Antonio; Steve Eberhart, KGAF AM/FM Gainesville; Sen. Cruz; Luis Villarreal, Gray Media Laredo; John Moesch, West Texas Radio Odessa-Midland; and Wendy Granato, KTRK-TV Houston.

Broadcasters not pictured with Sen. Cruz were meeting with other members of Congress. They included:  Nic Anderson, Salem Media Houston; Glenn L. Coleman, TelevisaUnivision Austin, Houston and San Antonio; Eric Lassberg, KXAN-TV Austin; Gerry Schlegel, 95.95 The Ranch Dallas-Fort Worth; Pat Stacey, KLTV/KTRE-TV Tyler-Lufkin; TAB Chair Amy Villarreal, KEYE-TV Austin;  and Jeff Zimmerman, TelevisaUnivision Dallas-Fort Worth. 

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