Pai: “I Want My FM Chip Mr. Cook”


The pressure is now on Apple as at least one department of the government is publicly pushing the iPhone maker to activate FM chips that are already in those phones. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says turning on the FM chips needs to be done to promote public safety and he’s asking Apple CEO Tim Cook to “do the right thing.”

Emmis CEO and NextRadio founder Jeff Smulyan tells Radio Ink he’s very pleased with the Pai announcement. “It’s clear that people’s lives depend on receiving radio in emergencies and it’s also clear there is no cost to Apple to do this. Every other manufacturer and carrier has turned on the FM chip. I really appreciate Chairman Pai’s leadership. It’s important for every American.”

On Thursday, Pai continued to pressure the wireless world with a statement regarding what he wants to see Apple do. “In recent years, I have repeatedly called on the wireless industry to activate the FM chips that are already installed in almost all smartphones sold in the United States. And I’ve specifically pointed out the public safety benefits of doing so. In fact, in my first public speech after I became Chairman, I observed that ‘[y]ou could make a case for activating chips on public safety grounds alone.’”

Pai says having easy access to FM Radio when power goes down in a storm is vital. And, recent Hurricanes Irma and Maria proved his point. “When wireless networks go down during a natural disaster, smartphones with activated FM chips can allow Americans to get vital access to life-saving information. I applaud those companies that have done the right thing by activating the FM chips in their phones.”

So he wants Apple to join the others who have already activated the chip and he’s applying the pressure. “Apple is the one major phone manufacturer that has resisted doing so. But I hope the company will reconsider its position, given the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. That’s why I am asking Apple to activate the FM chips that are in its iPhones. It is time for Apple to step up to the plate and put the safety of the American people first. As the Sun Sentinel of South Florida put it, ‘Do the right thing, Mr. Cook. Flip the switch. Lives depend on it.'”

Following the Pai statement Thursday NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith thanked the FCC Chairman for his strong support for voluntary activation of FM radio chips in Apple iPhones. “Local broadcasters are a lifeline information source in times of crisis, as Chairman Pai, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and other members of Congress and the FCC have noted. We urge Apple to acknowledge the public safety benefits of local broadcasting on SmartPhones and to light up the FM chip.”

Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro told Radio In, “We support manufacturers making decisions on the services their products receive.”



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