Now is the time to contact your elected representative and tell them to pass the Save AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act. This is an update to the Save AM Radio act and AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act.
I’m shocked that lawmakers from
all sides have not passed this obvious bill into a law. Senator Ted Cruz requested a unanimous consent decision on his AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act. It was blocked by Sen. Rand Paul, who said the mandate would be an overstep of congressional power.
This sets up the AM Radio Legislation for a traditional senate vote. When it comes to Capitol Hill political maneuvering, getting legislation to pass by unanimous consent is not an everyday feat — even when a majority of leaders are onboard for a bill’s approval. Thankfully the bill is far from dead.
In a move some D.C. insiders believe would not deliver the result he wanted, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), a key supporter of the Act, took to the Senate floor requesting a very rare unanimous consent vote for S.1669, legislation that requires the Department of Transportation to issue a rule that requires all new motor vehicles manufactured and sold in the U.S. to have devices that can access AM broadcast stations installed as standard equipment.
Since its May 17th introduction by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), some 43 co-sponsors have put their name on the bill, with Democrats Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Robert Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania joining Republicans John Hoeven of North Dakota and Chuck Grassley of Iowa in signing on to the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act. Those Senators became co-sponsors on November 29th.
As Cruz’s camp sees it, the bill, which was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee earlier this year, was on the verge of Senate passage before being objected to by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
This objection puts the Act into the typical Senate cue of taking a bill to the floor, opening up to amendments, and then holding a vote that would either approve the legislation, incorporate it into an omnibus bill, or let it linger, wither, and die. We cannot let this bill die.
The latter option is highly unlikely, as Rand Paul wants to tinker with the legislation rather than squash it. As reported by Streamline Publishing’s Radio Ink, Paul is seeking to add his own modification to the bill to end electric vehicle subsidies under the American Vehicle Tax Credit, in lieu of mandating AM radio remain a standard feature in all vehicles manufactured and sold in the U.S. as a safety feature.
The AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act would, if passed, also direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue a rule that requires automakers to maintain AM broadcast radio in their vehicles without a separate or additional payment, fee, or surcharge beyond the base price of the device.
Furthermore, the Act requires any automaker that sells vehicles without access to AM broadcast radio before the effective date of the NHTSA regulation to clearly disclose to consumers that the vehicle lacks access to AM broadcast radio.
Given the unlikely pairing of Cruz and Markey, getting the Act to the finish line is highly likely. I don’t recall another bill where we have joined forces, and it speaks to the power of this issue that you see such deep agreement across political party lines. Cruz also slammed the automotive companies that moved to remove AM radio as simply doing it for reasons beyond technology.
“I believe these automakers stood up to remove AM radio as part of a broader pattern we see of censoring views that are disfavored by Big Business,” Cruz remarked. “I think this is consistent with what Big Tech has done, silencing views they disagree with. And so this bill is all about preserving consumer choice—letting consumers decide. If you don’t want to listen to AM radio, turn it off. But you know what? If the automakers all come together and say, ‘you can’t turn it on because we’re not going to put it in your car, we’re not going to put it in your truck, you don’t have the right to choose what you will listen to.’ ”
Cruz concluded, “I think that’s profoundly harmful for our country and profoundly harmful for free speech. And so I hope this body can actually act in support of Americans in harm’s way in a disaster, and support of farmers and ranchers who rely on AM radio, and in support of a diversity of views speaking online, and in support of free speech for whatever your views whether they’re Right-wing, Left-wing, or no wings at all, AM radio lets people speak and make the case in John Stuart Mill’s marketplace of ideas.”
There’s more to the argument to keep AM radio.
When Tesla and BMW announced they were dropping AM tuners from new electric vehicles because of electromagnetic interference, many people in the radio industry began looking for a political solution that would keep the aging technology alive. Initially, Ford announced plans to discontinue offering AM tuners in its internal combustion engine vehicles. Ford has since postponed those plans.
The National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB), based in Platte City, Missouri, supports the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act because AM is still the best way to reach people in times of emergency, said Tom Brand, the association’s executive director.
“The Emergency Broadcasting System is the primary reason for our support,” Brand said. “We feel that it’s important for everyone, no matter what ZIP code they live in, to have access to emergency information from weather to a message that could come from Washington, D.C.”
One of the places where they are regular consumers of AM radio is in their vehicles. As Brand sees it, AM radio keeps people informed about weather disasters, which also is important from a safety standpoint.
Removing AM radio is a serious issue especially with local talk radio, local weather, your favorite local sport games and news. Many people rely on this free radio communication that is critical to their lives. Is there a reason to remove talk radio? Maybe is this a devious plan or are some car manufacturers cutting costs or is there more to it? What do you think?
Lauren Fix is a nationally recognized automotive expert, media guest, journalist, author, keynote speaker and television host. A trusted automotive expert, Lauren provides an insider’s perspective on a wide range of automotive topics, energy and safety issues for both the auto industry and consumers. Her analysis is honest and straightforward.
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