RELEASE: Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation Introduced to Keep AM Radio in New Vehicles

Led by Reps. Gottheimer, Kean, Menendez, Westerman, Gluesenkamp Perez and Sens. Markey and Cruz

May 17, 2023
Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, new bipartisan legislation is being announced in the House — the AM for Every Vehicle Act — to require automakers to maintain AM broadcast radio in new vehicles at no additional charge. Out of 20 of the world’s leading carmakers, eight have removed AM broadcast radio from their electric vehicles.

The AM for Every Vehicle Act is being led in the House by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), along with co-leads Reps. Tom Kean, Jr. (NJ-7), Rob Menendez (NJ-8), Bruce Westerman (AR-4), and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-3). The AM for Every Vehicle Act is being led in the Senate by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Ted Cruz (R-TX).

The bipartisan, bicameral AM for Every Vehicle Act will:

  • 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;
  • Require any automaker that sells vehicles without access to AM broadcast radio before the effective date of the NHTSA rule to clearly disclose to consumers that the vehicle lacks access to AM broadcast radio; and,
  • Direct the Government Accountability Office to study whether alternative communication systems could fully replicate the reach and effectiveness of AM broadcast radio for alerting the public to emergencies.

Bill text of the bipartisan, bicameral AM for Every Vehicle Act can be found here.

“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. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), the lead House sponsor of the AM for Every Vehicle Act. “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.”

“Radio plays an essential role in our country. Many Arkansans rely on AM broadcast radio for breaking news and entertainment as they make their daily commutes, especially in rural areas where constituents spend a lot of time in their vehicles. In the case of severe weather, something Arkansas is no stranger to, AM radio is critical in updating the public to assure their safety. With this bill, we’re protecting AM broadcast radio by ensuring that automakers continue providing AM radio in new vehicles, cannot impose unnecessary fees or surcharges that would prevent Americans from accessing these vital services in their vehicles, and clearly indicate if any vehicle lacks AM radio capability,” said Rep. Bruce Westerman (AR-4).

“As more and more Americans adopt electric vehicles, we must ensure that they are equipped with AM radio,” said Rep. Rob Menendez (NJ-8). “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.”

“Southwest Washington, especially our rural communities, relies on AM radio to stay informed during emergencies, and automakers removing AM radio from their cars just to save a few bucks puts people at risk. This is yet another example of how newer cars are being put out of reach for working families in rural America,” said Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-3). “This bipartisan bill will make sure AM radio remains accessible in new vehicles and that consumers are fully informed about whether or not AM radio is available in older models. Thank you to my colleagues from both sides of the aisle for taking action on this issue to keep people safe.”

 “As our society navigates the rapidly changing landscape of technology, we must not lose sight of technology’s vital foundations. AM radio remains a lifeline for those who rely on it for news, talk shows, sports, and emergency communications. From severe weather warnings to Amber Alerts, AM radio has been a lifeline for communities in distress. We need to safeguard this essential tool that, for decades, has allowed our citizens to stay informed, connected, and safe when it matters most,” said Rep. Tom Kean, Jr. (NJ-7). 

“For decades, free AM broadcast radio has been an essential tool in emergencies, a crucial part of our diverse media ecosystem, and an irreplaceable source for news, weather, sports, and entertainment for tens of millions of listeners,” said Senator Ed Markey (D-MA). “Carmakers shouldn’t tune out AM radio in new vehicles or put it behind a costly digital paywall. I am proud to introduce the AM for Every Vehicle Act to ensure that this resilient and popular communication tool does not become a relic of the past.”

“Each day, millions of Americans turn to AM radio to stay up to date on life in their community, engage on the issues they care about, or to be simply entertained during rush hour. AM radio is a critical bulwark for democracy, providing a platform for alternative viewpoints and the ability for elected officials to share our efforts with our constituents. Congress should act swiftly to pass this bill so Americans retain access to news, music, talk, and emergency alerts on the public airwaves. I’m glad to work with Sen. Markey on this bipartisan legislation to ensure carmakers do not limit Texans’ access to radio in their vehicles,” said Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).

“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 FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.  “We stand ready to provide any necessary support and expertise to the Department of Transportation and Government Accountability Office as they may need.”

“NAB commends Sens. Markey, Cruz, Baldwin and Fischer, and Reps. 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 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) President and CEO, Curtis LeGeyt.

“The New Jersey Broadcasters Association raised this issue with Rep. Gottheimer during our annual fly-in to Washington in early March, and the Congressman quickly became a champion of AM broadcasters in New Jersey and across the country. AM radio continues to serve a passionate and diverse listenership across New Jersey, offering music, news, sports, entertainment, and most critically, emergency information. Free, over-the-air radio has been a staple in automobiles almost as long as there have been automobiles and we thank Rep. Gottheimer, Reps. Kean and Menendez, and Senator Markey for their steadfast support of America’s AM broadcasters,” said New Jersey Broadcasters Association (NJBA) Executive Director Jordan Walton.

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