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FM-Capable Cell Phones Could Be a Boon to Broadcasters

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A new report released by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) highlights the probable advantages to radio broadcasters, handset manufacturers, and phone service providers that could come with an increase in the number of FM radio receivers in cell phone handsets.

''Radio is a service that already reaches 235 million American listeners every week. With 257 million cell phones currently in service, we’re confident that implementation of a new FM-radio feature would result in rapid penetration, benefiting not only the radio business and American consumers, but the cell phone, electronics manufacturing, and music industries as well,'' said NAB CEO and President David K. Rehr in an NAB press release.

Commissioned by the NAB technology advocacy program NAB FASTROAD (Flexible Advanced Services for Television & Radio On All Devices), the report describes such benefits from FM-capable cell phones as greater access to Emergency Alert System announcements, reduced-cost on-air cellular promotions, and an enhancement to music downloads since users would be able to tag songs heard on the radio for later purchase.

The report also mentions that in 2007 only about 8% of US cellular handsets sold were FM-capable and that the current penetration of FM-capable handsets in the US is not especially relevant to broadcasters.

''Radio broadcasters have an economic interest in increasing the penetration of FM radio receivers in cellular handsets. As penetration increases, radio audience listening time will also go up, and that should increase advertising revenues for broadcasters,'' the report states.

Whereas the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics had forecast major threats to the radio industry from car CD and MP3 players, this expansion of FM radio to most cell phones will likely cause the industry to benefit and grow as it works in conjunction with the music industry and cellular operators to boost downloads.

However, there are objections from cellular operators that free over-the-air music may compete with cellular music services and that there is currently no apparent consumer demand in the US for FM-capable handsets. Other technical concerns from cellular operators include the lack of FM coverage in rural areas, the radio function’s negative effect on cell phone battery power, and the need for a second internal antenna.

According to Forbes, ''Nokia reckons that 77% of its customers who use the simple radio feature tend to use it about once a week and consider it important…Transistor radios gave teenagers of the late 1950s and early 1960s a way to listen to the music their parents abhorred in privacy — ushering in a gadget revolution. With so many ways to listen to music now, radio cell phones may only be an evolutionary change.''
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Popular tags:

 FM  radio industry  broadcasts  Americans  consumers  manufacturing  costs  Bureau of Labor Statistics  music industry

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