Harker Research Points A Finger At NAB; NAB Takes 'Offense To This Ridiculous Post'
August 23, 2010 at 10:55 AM (PT)
Another round of criticism by HARKER RESEARCH for the NAB-RIAA proposal that would mandate FM tuners in mobile devices has drawn a sharp response from the NAB.
Following HARKER's criticism of the proposal in comments posted last week, (NET NEWS 8/20), the research firm added a new post TODAY with the headline "Could NAB Botch the FM Chip Any Worse?" HARKER's MONDAY post ripped into the new NAB leadership, asking, "When's the last time you heard GORDON SMITH say anything good about radio? When's the last time you saw the NAB out-front promoting radio, countering the endless parade of moronic musings about the death of radio?... radio's leaders have done a terrible job combating the continuing attacks by new-media stakeholders who want to convince Congress, the FCC, mainstream media, venture capital, and the public that radio is on its deathbed. As a result, large numbers of people believe the propaganda. They believe that radio really is irrelevant in a digital world."
NAB More Than Disagrees
In response, NAB EVP DENNIS WHARTON said, "I really take offense to this ridiculous post. I've spent 14 years working at NAB defending free and local radio. Here's an example of something I sent just last FRIDAY to DAVID LIEBERMAN, Sr. Media Reporter with USA TODAY. The same e-mail went to THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE BOSTON GLOBE and other publications:
"Rationale for why radio chips in cell phones is a good idea:
* Radio is a reliable, free and local lifeline service in times of crisis, and in a society where cell phones and other mobile devices are increasingly ubiquitous, it makes sense to have radio-enabled chips in these devices from a public safety perspective. Not to get too dramatic about this, but there were photos that I wish I’d saved from the NY TIMES on 9/11 of people huddled around car radios and boomboxes to get the latest information;
* When mass-produced, this feature would cost pennies per cellphone;
* Many cellphones already have radio capability. They have just not been activated yet by the manufacturer;
* 'Tagging' of music is a feature that many consumers would enjoy, possible providing a new revenue stream to cellphone providers, record labels and radio stations;
* Putting an FM chip in a cellphone frees up network capacity for the cellphone provider that was previously employed by the consumer for streaming audio features like PANDORA and iHEARTRADIO."
WHARTON added that a letter, sent last NOVEMBER by 60 U.S. House representatives from both sides of the aisle to FCC Chairman JULIUS GENACHOWSKI and Secretary of Homeland Security JANET NAPOLITANO, advocated that FM radio capability be added to all mobile phones sold in the UNITED STATES, citing safety and emergency warning alert concerns. The letter can be read in its entirety by clicking here.
Taking a shot at CEA President GARY SHAPIRO's criticism of the proposal, WHARTON said, "Last thing, SHAPIRO’s assertion that radio is a horse-and-buggy, dying technology (NET NEWS 8/19) is belied by ARBITRON, which recently reported that the number of over-the-air radio listeners per week is now at an all-time high, at 239 million. That’s up 7 million in just the last year." The ARBITRON study can be seen by clicking here.
The NAB leadership and industry proponents, including SAGA's ED CHRISTIAN and EMMIS' JEFF SMULYAN, of the FM tuner proposal, intended as a bargaining chip in the performance royalty debate, have been contacting media critics of the plan, including ALL ACCESS columnist PERRY MICHAEL SIMON, whose column in FRIDAY (8/20) charged that "FM tuners in cell phones and music players won't save anybody. Good programming and compelling content delivered the way a consumer wants it will, whether it's a stream or an FM signal or a download or through a bullhorn out the window." Sharp criticism of the proposal also came from CNET and other media observers.
[What do you think? If cell phone manufacturers put an FM or FM/HD chip in a cell phone, will it make a difference? Or, with so many station apps now available, is having an FM chip a moot point? Comment below.]