RIAA and NAB Attempt to Force FM Receivers in Handsets

In my recent report on Digital Radio, I made the case that “Smartphones are expected to include digital radio receivers starting in mid-2011, driven by carriers’ desire to offer users premium audio content while limiting the use of scarce radio spectrum”.This reason for adding radio to the cell phone is driven by market demand (to use the radio spectrum effectively) and based primarily on technical factors.

I was surprised to read other news that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) are behind a push to mandate (through Congress’s Performance Rights Act (PRA) in the House and Senate) that portable devices, whichinclude portable media players (PMPs) and cell phones, require an FM radio receiver.Their motivation is to ensure that radio stations (in the case of the NAB) and music (in the case of the RIAA) continue to reach customers in the crowded world of content. This legislation is being proposed based on private parties' business interests.While it would achieve the same result, it shouldn’t be confused with market-driven inclusion of HD radio receivers into the handset.