NAB Leaders: Consumers Deserve Radio-capable Cell Phones

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Washington - Sep 20, 2010 - Representatives from the National Association of Broadcasters wrote House and Senate leaders for the Judiciary and the Commerce committees to clarify their views of "the important consumer benefit" that could be derived from "unlocking the mobile phone market and granting consumer access to radio's free and unique offerings." The letters were signed by NAB Joint Board Chair Steve Newberry, president and CEO of Kentucky-based Commonwealth Broadcasting; and NAB Radio Board Chair Caroline Beasley, executive vice president and CFO of Florida-based Beasley Broadcast Group.

Their letter referenced a recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive for the NAB that showed a majority of American cell phone users would like the ability to listen to local radio stations through a built-in radio receiver on their mobile phones. Newberry and Beasley also noted the global demand for radio-capable cell phones, pointing out a recent study that predicted market penetration for radio-capable devices will reach 45 percent within the next year. The two finally noted the weekly listenership -- 239 million Americans age 12 and older -- of local radio and highlighted the "crucial lifeline" provided by local radio stations during times of emergency and crises. Newberry and Beasley wrote, "Americans ought not be denied access to such a pivotal lifeline service."

"Despite such global demand, much of the U.S. cell phone market remains founded upon exclusive contracts between consumer electronics manufacturers and mobile phone carriers, and consumers are being denied access to radio's free services on many mobile phone devices for competitive reasons," their letter explained. "Cell phone providers apparently would rather reap the revenue of data-intensive, fee-based streaming apps than offer consumers a free and local alternative."

"In the end, this is an issue of consumer access," wrote Newberry and Beasley. "Americans deserve better choices than what is being offered by gatekeeper mobile service providers. The demonstrated demand for radio-capable cell phones, coupled with local radio's role as a lifeline service during times of crisis, are considerations we hope you will take into account as this debate continues." The letters are posted at the NAB website:
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