Craig Fugate served as President Barack Obama’s FEMA Administrator from May 2009 to January 2017. Before that he was Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s Emergency Management Director from 2001 to 2009. Over the weekend, Fugate penned an op-ed piece regarding the recent controversy between the radio industry and Apple.
Recently, there have been calls for Apple to activate the FM Chip in its iPhones. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is one of those speaking out. Craig Fugate has supported the FM Chip in the past, highlighting the important role local radio plays in getting safety information to communities when extreme weather hits. His opinion piece, which appeared in several newspapers, states that he’s puzzled by Apple’s reluctance to equip its iPhones with FM radio reception capability.
Fugate writes that Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria demonstrated that local governments and public safety officials rely on broadcast radio and TV to let the public know what is happening on the ground during a disaster. But, he says, Apple’s response to the calls to flip the FM Chip on is baffling. “It said that the iPhone 7 and 8 models do not include FM chips, while citing emergency weather alerts and access Medical ID card information as evidence of its appreciation for public safety. However, though these services are noble, they do not offer lifeline emergency information when cellular networks go down.
Apple has said the newer iPhones no longer have the FM Chip inside. Fugate isn’t buying that argument though. “While there is evidence the chips in iPhone 7 and 8 do, in fact, include potential FM radio capability, it is curious that Apple would even claim to have taken out FM radio chips from its newer models.”
Fugate points out that public safety officials advise Americans to have a battery-operated radio at-the-ready in order to tune into local radio during an emergency. “Radio-enabled mobile devices can provide this function and allow users to listen to potentially lifesaving information from local radio stations. This feature also consumes little battery power – a plus when phone charging is at a premium – and is not reliant on the wireless networks that often fail or become congested during an emergency. Radio-enabled smartphones can also work hand-in-hand with wireless emergency alerts sent during a crisis, which often direct recipients to turn to local media for more information. Radio capability on mobile devices allows people to easily switch to broadcast radio to stay safe.”
Read the full Fugate opinion piece HERE