Menendez, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Keep AM Radio Available in All New Vehicles

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) joined colleagues in introducing the AM for Every Vehicle Act, bipartisan and bicameral legislation that would direct federal regulators, including the Secretary of Transportation, to issue a rule requiring automobiles manufactured or imported into the United States include devices, installed as standard equipment, that can receive signals and play content transmitted by AM broadcast stations.

“This bipartisan, bicameral legislation will protect consumers and promote public safety by ensuring that AM radio is available in all vehicles manufactured in or imported to the United States, including electric vehicles, at no extra cost,” said Sen. Menendez. “In addition to news and entertainment content, AM radio is one of the most reliable ways to share life-saving information during public safety emergencies.  Making the critically important shift to electric vehicles to protect our environment does not need to come at the cost of access to critical information.”

Specifically, the AM for Every Vehicle Act would:

1.      Direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue a rule that requires automakers to maintain AM broadcast radio in their vehicles without a separate or additional payment, fee, or surcharge;

2.      Require any automaker that sells vehicles without access to AM broadcast radio before the effective date of the NHTSA regulation to clearly disclose to consumers that the vehicle lacks access to AM broadcast radio; and

3.      Direct the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study whether alternative communication systems could fully replicate the reach and effectiveness of AM broadcast radio for alerting the public to emergencies.

In the Senate, the legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). In the House of Representatives, Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.-05), Tom Kean, Jr. (R-N.J.-07), Rob Menendez (D-N.J.-08), Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.-04), and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-Wash.-03) cosponsored the legislation.

“I would think that if Elon Musk has enough money to buy Twitter and send rockets to space, he can afford to include AM radio in his Teslas. Instead, Elon Musk and Tesla and other car manufacturers are putting public safety and emergency response at risk,” said Rep. Gottheimer. “The importance of AM radio during large-scale emergencies cannot be underestimated, and it has, without a doubt and without interruption, saved lives and kept our communities informed. When the cell phone runs out, the internet gets cut off, or the television doesn’t work because of no electricity or power to your house, you can still turn on your AM radio. I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan AM for Every Vehicle Act in the House to ensure that all auto manufacturers include AM radio in their vehicles to protect public safety.”

“As more and more Americans adopt electric vehicles, we must ensure that they are equipped with AM radio,” said Rep. Menendez. “AM radio is – and will remain – an essential communications channel for emergency alerts and for disseminating news and other important information to residents of our district and communities across our country. I am proud to co-lead this bipartisan legislation which would ensure that EVs continue to be equipped with this basic but critical capability.”

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and Commissioner Nathan Simington endorsed the bill.

“There is a clear public safety imperative here. Having AM radio available in our cars means we always have access to emergency alerts and key warnings while we are out on the road. Updating transportation should not mean sacrificing access to what can be life-saving information,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission. “We stand ready to provide any necessary support and expertise to the Department of Transportation and Government Accountability Office as they may need.”

“As I mentioned in my speech to the NAFB last November, ‘[t]he Commission should not be shy about asking auto manufacturers to serve the public interest by continuing to serve AM radio listeners[.]’ And, as I indicated in my statement earlier this year supporting former FEMA heads in their letter to the Department of Transportation regarding AM radio in vehicles, ‘I believe that the FCC should make clear the vital importance of AM radio. . . . The public safety community and the American public rely on AM radio. Auto manufacturers now, and increasingly in the future will, rely on spectrum. Care should be taken to weigh the velocity of innovations against the stability of institutions. The Commission can, and must, play a role in striking that balance.’ I welcome any effort from Congress to secure the future of AM radio for the enduring benefit of the American people, and I invite my colleagues on the Commission and across the whole of government to raise their voices in support of this vital mission,” said Nathan Simington, Commissioner of the FCC.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), New Jersey Broadcasters Association, and National Association of Farm Broadcasters endorsed the AM for Every Vehicle Act.

“NAB commends Senators Markey, Cruz, Baldwin, Fischer, Luján, and Vance, and Representatives Gottheimer, Westerman, Kean, Menendez and Gluesenkamp Perez, for their leadership in advocating for AM radio listeners. This legislation ensures that the tens of millions of Americans who depend on AM radio for news, entertainment and critical safety information each month can continue to have access to this reliable communications medium. As the backbone of the Emergency Alert System, AM radio is instrumental in promptly disseminating vital information across all mediums during crises, ensuring that communities remain safe and well informed. America’s local broadcasters applaud the bill’s authors and supporters for recognizing AM’s critical role in our nation’s public safety infrastructure,” said Curtis LeGeyt, President and CEO of National Association of Broadcasters.

“The New Jersey Broadcasters Association and our 39 AM stations applaud Senator Menendez for his original co-sponsorship of the ‘AM for Every Vehicle Act.’  In a time of data caps and subscription services, free over-the-air radio continues to serve diverse, local communities throughout New Jersey and the United States with great music and entertainment, timely news, weather, and traffic, and most importantly, critical emergency alerts and information.  We urge quick passage of S.1669 thereby ensuring AM radio continues to reach all of New Jersey for years to come,” said Jordan Walton, Executive Director of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association.

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  1. The car manufacturer know the truth when the electric is down so will the cars be. You can’t truck in electricity unless you want to make new types of transport trucks that are generators that run off

    That’s why the electric cars don’t think it’s a safety thing not to have AM radio.

  2. Menemdez, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Keep AM Radio in All New Vehcles.
    “Thank you very much,” said one long time AM, Conservative Talk Radio listener in a tweet on Monday. “If not for the Rush Limbaughs, Sean Hannitys and Mark Levins of the world, I wouldn’t have the ability to debate my Liberal adversaries and Left-Wing antagonists during my daily visits to the local coffee rooms and eateries.”
    “AM Conservative Talk Radio has always been, and will continue to be, my lifeline to Freedom, Liberty and Conservative values,” he went on to tweet. “Hence, I tip my hat to the Democrat Senator from NJ, Mr. Menendez, and the bipartisan group of lawmakers who have given my talk radio life back to me.”
    “The talk radio enthusiast added: “Truth be told, I work from home, and all my food is delivered to me via Uber – hence I have no real need to drive a car, other than to turn on my car radio and to glean the latest political insights, 24/7, from Sean, Mark, Dan and the rest of the Conservative stalwarts. Thank again, Senator Menendez. You are living proof that, on extremely rare occasions, even a Democrat can do a good deed.”
    The Republican National Committee [RNC] also put out a tweet saying that: “Without Sean, Mark and the rest of our leaders on Talk Radio, Conservatism would have clearly been extinct by now. Hence, we extend our heartful gratitude to this benevolent group of lawmakers who are ensuring that our core lifestyles will never dissipate and that authentic Conservatism will forever remain intact. Thank you, Senators, from the bottom of our AM radio transmitters.”

  3. ” The car manufacturers know the truth. When the electric is down, so will the cars be “.
    This brings me to a sobering thought. Maybe it’s time to put the brakes on this whole electric car project.

    For those who remember the summer of 03 blackout, there was extra police, Shomrim etc. patrolling the neighborhoods.

    Suppose there’s a blackout after they finished phasing out the gas cars. Say, some of our fellow citizens are frustrated about a particular verdict. Who’s going to protect the neighborhoods from the looters/rioters if the cars don’t work.
    How will you get help in a medical emergency? I’d hate to consider the death toll in such a circumstance.

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