Cruz Leads the Fight to Protect AM Radio

Cruz Leads the Fight to Protect AM Radio

( – A steady decline in AM radio stations has led to automakers removing AM from their dashboard radios. However, US Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Ed Markey (D-MA) are working together in a bipartisan effort to pass S. 1669, entitled the “AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act,” which they hope will allow for AM radio to continue to broadcast in automobiles by requiring its inclusion in every new vehicle at no additional charge.

The bill would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to rule that AM broadcast is standard equipment for motor vehicles manufactured, imported, or shipped into the United States. Before the requirement’s enactment date, it would also require labeling vehicles that cannot access AM broadcast stations. Once enacted, civil penalties could happen against manufacturers who do not follow the rule.

Senate Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee supported the law, leading it to pass the Democratic-led committee. Cruz argued that “AM radio serves a critical function during emergencies.”

Late last year, Markey sent a letter to 20 auto manufacturers about their plans regarding AM radio. Eight responded that they intended to discontinue access, ten intended to maintain access, and two claimed that AM is no longer relevant.

In a harsh criticism of automakers, Markey said, “Broadcast AM radio is an essential part of our emergency alert infrastructure…far too many automakers are ignoring the critical safety benefits of AM radio.”

Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN) also backed the bill, “Minnesotans look to AM radio for everything…It’s critical to protect AM radio for our communities.”

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) also supports the legislation. NAB President LeGeyt asserts that this effort to protect AM will guarantee that the millions of AM radio listeners “retain access to local news, diverse community programming and emergency information.”

Critics of the move believe that the blanket requirement could interfere with manufacturing electric vehicles since the electric powertrain hinders the AM signal. However, the bipartisan support of the legislation makes the bill likely to pass both chambers of Congress. The House version of the bill is pending, but it already has the co-sponsorship of 70 Republicans and 68 Democrats.

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