NAB’s Smith makes another plea to Apple: ‘Turn on FM radio’

phone iPhone
While most smartphones can natively receive FM signals, it’s not a capability enabled on many mobile devices.

LAS VEGAS—NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith is continuing his quest to have smartphone makers enable native FM radio reception capabilities in their devices.

“We hope our friends at Apple are listening and that they soon will make this lifesaving feature available in the iPhone,” Smith told a packed opening keynote audience at the NAB show in Las Vegas this morning. 

While most smartphones can natively receive FM signals, it’s not a capability enabled on many mobile devices. The NAB has been working for the last several years to see this change. The org has pushed the FCC to require devicemakers to embed the receiver feature, which NAB said is a communication channel that will remain available in the event of natural disasters and other events that take down wireless networks. 

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While also noting NAB’s continued pressure on Ford and General Motors to keep traditional radio as a key component of the connected car of the future, Smith took time to tub thump the overall value of the broadcast industry.

He noted, for example, that some broadcasters passed on millions of dollars as wireless companies spent $19 billion at the FCC’s recent spectrum auction on a portion of the TV spectrum band.

“I think we know what the highest and best use of spectrum is. It’s broadcasting,” he said. 

Smith also used the forum to campaign for a high-priority NAB agenda item: the adoption of the ATSC 3.0-backed Next Generation TV standard. 

“Just as the wireless business has been free to move from 3G to 4G to 5G, NAB will continue to lead the effort to educate policymakers on the benefits of the Next Generation TV platform,” he said. 

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