The FCC declined to make inclusion of AM, FM and HD radio a must-carry item on the interoperable satellite audio receivers that are to be a result of the merger of XM and Sirius into Sirius XM. However, Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet Chairman Ed Markey (D-MA) has rounded up a bipartisan posse that would make it the law of the land that all satellite receivers can also access terrestrial signals. Radio’s own Greg Walden (R-OR) is among the co-sponsors of the “Radio All Digital Channel Receiver Act,” along with Lee Terry (R-NE), Charlie Gonzalez (D-TX), Joe Wilson (R-SC), and Dan Burton (R-IN).
“Millions of Americans today rely on local broadcast radio for news, public safety bulletins, sports, weather, traffic and other information,” said Markey. “As the broadcast radio industry migrates to digital broadcasting technology, this legislation will ensure that consumers are able to readily receive free service through consumer electronics systems that are otherwise receiving satellite digital audio radio and traditional AM or FM stations. Further, the recent merger of the only two satellite radio providers, XM and Sirius satellite radio, has underscored the importance of ensuring consumer access to a diversity of sources for digital radio content, in particular content originating in their local communities. My bill therefore simultaneously seeks to address the long-term competitive health of local radio while ensuring that their local, digital services are readily received by radio consumers.”
RBR/TVBR observation: Hey, better late than never. But the next question would be when? This bill has a name, but it doesn’t even have an H.R. number yet, and the satcasters have no doubt been getting their satellite exclusive interoperables into production (you know, the ones that were mandated by the FCC years and years ago?) without terrestrial capability. So the piece of paper Markey is pushing may well crash head-on with actual hardware in production in a factory somewhere. And we haven’t even brought up the desire to get something on the market in time for the rapidly-approaching holiday gift-giving season. For this one, definitely stay tuned.