‘AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act’ Formally Introduced for US Senate Vote

AM Radio act senate
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AM Radio act senate
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Photo Credit: Mpho Mojapelo

The US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation formally introduced the ‘AM For Every Vehicle Act’ to the Senate floor.

On the morning of Thursday, July 27, the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation officially introduced the AM For Every Vehicle Act to the Senate floor in an executive session broadcast live. The bill was introduced by Senators Edward Markey (D-MA) and Ted Cruz (R-TX).

If passed, the bill will require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to issue a rule requiring all new vehicles to have devices that can access AM broadcast stations installed as standard equipment to receive emergency alerts and news programming, as some newer cars do not include such equipment. This equipment must be maintained without a separate or additional charge. Specifically, this would apply to vehicles manufactured in or imported into the United States.

“Prior to the effective date of the rule, manufacturers that do not include devices that can access AM broadcast stations as standard equipment must inform purchasers of this fact through clear and conspicuous labeling,” the bill reads. “DOT may assess civil penalties against any manufacturer that fails to comply with the mandate. The Department of Justice may also bring a civil action to enjoin a violation.”

Further, the Government Accountability Office must study and report as to whether a reliable alternative communication system could replicate the effectiveness of AM broadcast for delivering emergency alerts — which must also be freely available to drivers and passengers.

“AM radio is an essential communication tool during emergencies, and for decades has been a source of news, entertainment, sports, and music for tens of millions of drivers,” says Sen. Markey, a vital voice on the issue in Congress. “I thank Senator Cruz for his partnership as we work to cut through the noise and uphold access to AM radio as we plug into our clean energy, all-electric future.”

“AM radio plays a critical role in our public safety infrastructure,” adds FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks in a separate statement. “As seven former heads of FEMA have explained, AM’s resiliency combined with the long distances AM signals propagate means ‘the success of the National Public Warning System hinges on the use of AM radio.’ I agree. Americans know in times of emergency that they can turn to AM radio.”

Notably, the National Association of Broadcasters reports that Senator Gary Peters from Michigan voted “no” on the bill, as Michigan is home to the US auto manufacturer industry, which opposes the legislation. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, based in Michigan, recently called the bill unnecessary, stating, “Congress has never mandated radio features in vehicles ever before.”

Additionally, a similar bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), with support from Reps. Tom Kean, Jr. (NJ-7), Rob Menendez (NJ-8), Bruce Westerman (AR-4), and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-3).