Wednesday, May 24, 2023

The Pressure Got To Ford

Ford has backpedaled on its decision to move on from AM radio, and will include it in all 2024 Ford and Lincoln vehicles, Ford CEO Jim Farley announced Tuesday, after lawmakers from both parties cited AM’s importance for emergency broadcasts—and some high-profile conservatives warned AM is crucial to political talk radio, according to Forbes.

In addition to including AM radio in all 2024 Ford and Lincoln vehicles, Farley said the company will provide a software update for owners of Ford electric vehicles that are currently without AM broadcast capability.

In April, Ford said it planned to stop putting AM radio in new gas-powered and electric vehicles beginning in 2024, including electric models such as the Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning pickup.

BMW, Tesla, Audi, Porsche and other automakers have already begun selling electric vehicles without AM radio—EVs are often the first to remove AM because electric motors can interfere with AM signals.

Some manufacturers have cited poor sound quality due to electromagnetic interference as their reason for leaving traditional AM behind in electric cars. They have further argued that digital streaming is a worthy alternative, as listeners leave the once-dominant AM radio brand for FM, satellite, online streaming and other options. Ford and other automakers such as Tesla, BMW and Volkswagen have been pressured by lawmakers to keep AM radio in their new electric vehicles, citing public safety concerns and AM’s role in transmitting emergency information. 

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the AM for Every Vehicle Act last week, which would require automakers to “maintain AM broadcast radio in new vehicles at no additional charge.” The bill also seeks to have the Government Accountability Office study whether alternative communication systems like streaming could replicate the effectiveness of AM broadcast radio for public emergency alerts. 

Meanwhile, some conservatives have pushed back against the removal of AM radio due to its potential impact on conservative talk radio, which largely appears on the AM band—right-wing pundits Mark Levin and Sean Hannity, both of whom have nationally syndicated radio shows, have urged automakers to reverse course.

82.3 million. That is the number of people in the U.S. who listen to AM radio monthly, according to data from a Fall 2022 Nielsen survey cited by radio syndicator Westwood One.

1 comment:

  1. To be fair, you can understand Ford's initial position. I mean, broadcasters have been slowly walking away from AM for the past 15 or so years. In some markets, like Atlanta and Chicago, heritage AMs don't even refer to their AM frequencies anymore now that they are simulcasting on an FM signal.