A nationwide poll conducted by Harris Interactive shows 80 percent of Americans who own a cellphone would consider paying a small, one-time only fee to access their favorite local radio stations on those phones.
The survey, commissioned by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), was conducted online between April 18 and May 1, polling more than 2,000 U.S. adults (age 18+).
The 2012 poll comes on the heels of heightened attention among policymakers who have indicated an interest in exploring the merits of equipping mobile devices with FM receivers. Last month, Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), chair of the House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications, held a roundtable on Capitol Hill with members of the broadcast, cable and wireless industries to discuss how to work together to enhance the current system of alerting and informing the maximum amount of citizens in times of crisis.
The association also noted a comment by former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps following a rash of severe weather and tornado outbreaks last summer: "We share a duty to think creatively about how we can arm consumers with additional ways to communicate during disasters…I think the time is here for a thorough, calm and reasoned discussion about FM chips in handsets."
"The results of this survey demonstrate again a significant and growing demand for radio-capable cellphones in the United States," notes Dennis Wharton, NAB’s executive vice president/Communications. "We’re hopeful that as demand for this capability becomes more apparent, wireless carriers will voluntarily offer this feature or activate radio chips already in their devices. Radio-enabled cellphones are a standard feature in much of Europe and Asia. From a public-safety perspective alone, there is a strong case to be made for wireless carriers to also voluntarily activate radio chips in cellphones in the United States."
Other poll findings:
>> Local weather and music are the top two reasons survey participants would listen to their local stations on their cellphones.
>> 70 percent of cellphone owners indicated that having a radio built into their cellphones, capable of providing local weather and emergency alerts in real time, would be "very" or "somewhat" important.
NAB has noted that U.S. wireless carriers seem to prefer offering consumers exclusive bandwidth-consuming contracts with expensive streaming applications and data plans as opposed to a broadcast radio alternative requiring only a minimal one-time fee. Indeed, even many "free apps," require the use of data to operate on mobile devices, the group says.