AM and FM to disappear from cars ?

Staff Writer

An article appeared a few days ago on US website, Radio INK. It was written by their publisher Eric Rhoads. The story is this :-

Radio INK held a conference last week where digital experts talked about the growth of online radio listening over the past 12 months in the US.

At one session, 3 reps from the car industry spoke about what is happening to the in-car entertainment experience, the digital dashboard and what's next. Then this statement came from the stage:

"AM and FM are being eliminated from the dash of two car companies within two years and will be eliminated from the dash of all cars within five years."

The panelists said that, after much research, the trends tell them that young people don't use radio anymore, they want streaming services.

"Since the automotive companies work three years in advance, these decisions are being made now. It appears that radio really will be gone from the dash unless it's heard through an Internet radio distribution platform," says Rhoads.

Now some are claiming there's no way this will happen.

So we got in touch with Commercial Radio Australia's CEO Joan Warner to find out if she believes the same could occur here:

"We are dealing with car companies regularly on the integration of DAB+ radio chips into cars. There is no suggesiton AM and FM is on the way out in cars in Australia – or really anywhere else. If you look around the world you will see that digital broadcast radio chips are slowly but surely being integrated as standard into many vehicle makes – especially in Europe. If car makers did not believe drivers wanted broadcast radio they would not be doing this.

I think this article needs to be investigated much more carefully before believing what the "panelists" assert.

That being said, US radio should be now seeking out major car companies for an assurance this is a beat up and that they recognise that research figures do not support any misperceptions that people do not want radio in cars.

Adding streaming music services, in a way, is akin to havng a cassette, CD, player, MP3 player or iPod dock in a car. It's become the new "coffee cup holder".

Radio is more than just music or a playlist. None of these services can replace radio in terms of live, local, news, information, celebrity, gossip, and sense of local community.

Sadly it appears that many US radio stations have allowed themselves to become simply "jukeboxes" – these are the services that are under threat from streaming services. It is also a fact that streaming services cannot deliver a robust, free to air service of the same program live to tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of listeners at the same time.

Because of the robustness and reliability of broadcast, for safety reasons alone, car makers cannot afford to remove broadcast radio from vehicles."

Read the full Radio INK article here


UPDATE: March 13

Inside Radio in the US have spoken with the top 3 car makers – GM, Ford and Chrysler about the AM/FM in-car debate.

Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne says:

“We have no plans to get rid of them because of their value for our customers”

Chief infotainment officer Phil Abram at GM says there are 'no near term plans' and….

"While we are excited about the possibilities of internet radio services and other emerging services, we understand that AM/FM radio is still a significant source of news and entertainment, in fact, it is an expected feature”

Alan Hall at Ford says:

“There are no plans to ‘disband’ the AM frequency"

See more here

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