NAB, RIAA: Congress Should Mandate FM Radio in Portable Devices

You know, I really like America and its citizens. Beautiful country, lovely people, nothing but good experiences on my end. However, like everyone else, the US has its problems, and one particular annoying one is the power of lobby and interests groups. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read that the RIAA and NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) are asking Congress to mandate FM chips in all portable devices – cell phones, mp3 players, PDAs, everything. Wait, what?

A little background on this seemingly crazy proposal comes from Ars Technica. As it turns out, radio stations in the US do not have to pay performance rights to labels and artists due to a special exemption in copyright law; only songwriters are compensated. The RIAA demands from the National Association of Broadcasters that ordinary radio stations, like satellite and web radio stations, start paying performance rights to labels and artists too.

The NAB doesn’t like this, stating that radio provides essential promotion for artists and labels, and as such, doesn’t need to pay. The bill has already passed committees in both the House and Congress, and Congress ordered the two sides to come to an agreement. They’re not done yet, but they do agree that Congress should mandate that mobile devices all have FM radio chips inside them; in return, the NAB is willing to pay 100 million USD for performance rights.

I’m seeing a pattern here. Once again, the RIAA and its lackies are aggressively trying to force the US government to support ageing business models, and the US government appears to just be okay with it. The US still can’t fully grasp some government influence on health care, yet they seem to have little to no problems with the government actively upholding an industry that has proven time and time again to be incapable to deliver what consumers want.

It’d be akin to the government writing laws specifically to keep the horse shoe industry alive, by forcing horses to be shipped with each and every car sold. Or, enacting a law that makes it illegal to ship computers without a 3.5″ floppy drive. If these things sound idiotic to you, then you should also oppose these idiotic mandated FM radio chips.

Sure, let’s cram yet another chip and antenna into a device that can barely last through a day’s use as it is without draining the battery. All this is just so incredibly backwards and stupid I just can’t wrap my brain around it. Since when is it the government’s job to give a rat’s bum about ageing business models that have long since been supplanted by modern, functional, and profitable alternatives?

It’s probably been said best by the Consumer Electronics Association’s head Gary Shapiro: “Rather than adapt to the digital marketplace, NAB and RIAA act like buggy-whip industries that refuse to innovate and seek to impose penalties on those that do.” Boom, headshot.

61 Comments

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