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Federal Legislation to Keep AM Radio in Automobiles Introduced

We reported previously that Sen. Ed Markey (D MA) sent letters to all of the major automobile manufacturers asking them about their plans to take AM radios out of their vehicles. He learned that a number of auto manufacturers, such as BMW, Volvo, Mazda, and Tesla have removed or are planning to remove AM radios from their electric vehicles. Ford will take AM out of all its cars beginning in 2024. Such a move would have a devastating impact on the 161 AM stations in New York. It would undermine the Emergency Alert Service (EAS) in the state. It would strand the 82 million listeners in this country that rely on AM radio.

Last Wednesday, bills were introduced in the House (H.R.3413) and the (Senate S.1669), both of which seek to keep AM radio receivers in all automobiles. The AM for Every Vehicle Act requires the Secretary of Transportation, through the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), to adopt regulations within one year requiring automakers to include AM radios in all vehicles. Specifically, the legislation would require:

  1. Every vehicle manufactured, imported, or sold in the United States to have a receiver that can receive and play the content of AM radio stations.

  2. AM receivers to be standard equipment in all cars.

  3. There can be no fee or charge for including the AM radio in the vehicle.

  4. AM radio to be placed in the dashboard that is conspicuous to the driver.

The legislation requires automobiles sold without AM radios before the rules go into effect to contain a label that the car does not contain an AM radio. In addition, the legislation requires the GAO to conduct a study regarding the costs associated with providing emergency alerts to automobiles on other alerting systems.

The legislation has strong bipartisan support. For example, liberal Senator Ed Markey (D MA) and conservative Senator Ted Cruz (R TX) both support the legislation. Democrat Senators Tammy Baldwin (WI), Bob Menendez (NJ), and Ben Ray Lujan (NM) have also joined Republican Senators J.D. Vance (OH), Roger Wicker (MS), and Deb Fisher (NE) in supporting the bill.

Bipartisan support can also be seen in the House of Representatives. Republican Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), Tom Kean Jr. (NJ-07), and Bruce Westerman (AR-04) support the bill along with Democrats Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03) and Rob Menendez (NJ-08).

This is a huge step forward. Frankly, it is rare to see such bipartisan support for any issue. NYSBA will be going to Washington DC to urge all New York Congressional delegation members to support this important legislation. We will keep you updated!

You can see Sen. Markey’s press release describing the bill here.

You can see the text of the legislation here.

You can access WABC's news interview with David Donovan here.

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