Jeff Smulyan takes FM cell chip debate to the Rio Grande Valley


A face off on the value of FM chips in cell phones took place at ComCorp of America’s NBC KVEO in the Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen TX DMA pitting Emmis Communications CEO Jeff Smulyan against Steve Berry of the Rural Cellular Association – more evidence that elements of the PRA debate are going very mainstream.

Discussing the need to work in Washington to get a legislated FM cell phone chip mandate, Smulyan said, “It’s a shame it’s come to this, but the marketplace has been blocked.” He added, “This isn’t going to be a cost item, because in most of the rest of the world, these phones are shipped with the chip in them.”

Berry argued, “We believe it’s an increased cost to consumers for a functionality consumers may not ever actually use.” He noted that broadcasters were hiding behind the need for the chip as a “public service.”

But the public service angle is actually a very strong argument in favor, noted Smulyan. “In a true emergency, because we have backup generators, we’re really the only pople who can inform the American public.”

Berry said “This boils down to money, and it’s all about money and revenue.”

Smulyan did not disagree with that assessment, but he said the thirst for cash was coming from cell interests. “They like to sell music download services that people pay for,” he said.

RBR-TVBR note: All reports to Radio vs PRA, CTIA, CEA the controversy, money, the Chip