Fish in the Water!

The NAB Radio Convention met in Las Vegas a week ago to reassure themselves there is no problem. Jeff Smulyan, the CEO of Emmis Radio was again pushing his campaign to force cell phones to activate the FM tuner inside the phone. A few days later, he warned that crashing revenue in New York and LA stations could put his company in danger with his creditors.

So a whole series of stories appeared touting the idea of the FM radio hidden inside your phone. It isn’t exactly “hidden” – it is there running your wifi connection. While you might get the chip to tune to 88-108 MHz, there is this little problem of not having an FM antenna in the phone. AM radio is totally impossible.

So here is one such story, but it has a zinger at the end that makes enough sense it could happen and torpedo radio as we know it.

“The Blackburn-Eshoo bill also includes a provision that needles broadcasters even more. The proposed law would prevent owners of both TV and radio stations from receiving retransmission payments—money they are paid when cable and satellite stations play their local programming—for their TV station, unless their radio station pays artists for playing their music.”

The argument that local TV has a right to be paid for its product nicely contradicts radio’s assertions that musicians have no right to be paid for their songs being played on radio – after all, radio is the only way young people find out about a new song, and head to the record store and buy the latest 45 rpm or vinyl album.

While I appreciate the creative approach, it has a pretty fatal flaw. Just as kidz aren’t going to the record store to buy 45s, TV companies no longer own radio stations (with a few exceptions – most importantly CBS).

Radio Owners with no TV Stations
– Clear Channel
– Cumulus
– Alpha
– Digity
– Salem
– Townsquare
– Beasley
– Connoisseur
– MCC Radio
– Saga
– Radio One

Radio Station owners WITH TV stations
– Entravision
– Journal/Scripps
– Cox
– Tribune (WGN – plays no music)
– CBS (CBS Radio is already a separate corporation)
– a number of PBS/NPR affiliates

I need to create a license count by parent – I needed something to do today…

Sonar Operator: Captain!
Captain RIAA: Yes?
Sonar Operator: That torpedo we launched a while ago – it is now pinging us! It is on final course to sink us!
Captain RIAA: WTF??? Your telling me we will be sunk by our own torpedo?
Sonar Operator: in about 14 seconds
Captain RIAA: damn the torpedoes
Crew: damn you, torpedo!

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1 Response to Fish in the Water!

  1. Art Stone says:

    A reddit thread tried to uncover the usefulness of the chip. A number of people repeated the fact that the chip is a transceiver, but apparently are confused by what that means. A transceiver both transmits and receives – Bluetooth and WiFi both send and receive. An FM transceiver would have the ability to take the audio output of the phone and send it at up to Section 15 power levels. That would (in theory) allow the phone to transmit to an existing FM radio (think the one in your old car). But that requires an amplifier and antenna, which are not present.

    The comments repeat the idea that the phone needs an amplifier to receive FM – I’m moderately sure that’s wrong. It would need the amp if the chip was directly powering the speakers, but I would expect the output of the chip to go into the circuitry that plays digital audio from other sources.

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