Wisconsin broadcaster’s ‘Fight On’ in service to our communities

In the News

Our FCC license ensures our inherent responsibility to serve our respective communities.  That is something we all take very seriously and welcome the opportunity to do. Yet this year we find ourselves in a fight to keep a very important part of what we do available to American consumers. And that is to keep AM radio in America’s cars!

AM radio helps ensure public safety but is at risk if automakers remove it from vehicles, as some want to do.  AM radio plays a vital role in the country’s Emergency Alert System and is a popular way for listeners to stay connected to news, sports, and entertainment. Despite that, some automakers have removed it as a feature, particularly in electric vehicles (EVs) and are signaling they might do the same on new models of traditional cars.

There has been a public outcry from members of Congress, FEMA, consumers, and broadcasters, and that has led to some hard-earned progress. The Senate Commerce Committee just passed the “AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act,” which the NAB supports. Now the legislation must pass in both houses to go into effect. Please continue your advocacy on this vital public service as we all work to keep our communities safe and informed.


Another important issue that could harm our ability to serve our communities is the FCC’s lack of up-to-date marketplace information on the impact and influence of digital distribution platforms, “vMVPDs” (streaming platforms). And this issue is really heating up!

Nearly a decade ago (2014), the FCC initiated a proceeding and proposed to “modernize” the definition of MVPDs to include streaming platforms. But they never completed the proceeding.  As you recall, the WBA just lobbied on this right before the Summer Conference, and the NAB just did a fly-in.

Broadcasters need the FCC to refresh the record on the impact of these vMVPDs.  Should they be on equal regulatory footing with facilities based MVPDs (cable and satellite systems) with respect to retransmission consent? If so, broadcasters could negotiate with streaming platforms to carry our local content directly. We need Congress to encourage the FCC to better reflect current marketplace realities. 

In July, local broadcast groups, backed by the affiliate associations for ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX launched an advocacy group, called the Coalition for Local News, to help us with this cause. But we have competition from the Preserve Viewer Choice Coalition. This group includes the networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telemundo, and Univision) who currently negotiate this on our behalf, streaming platforms like Fubo and Roku and production studios like Warner Bros. Discovery.  They argue that a push for the FCC to reexamine broadcast rules to apply them to streaming platforms would amount to unnecessary government intervention that would diminish consumer’s viewing options.


We have our work cut out for us on both fronts.  And, we’ll have to see how the battle unfolds to determine our next steps. But “fight on” we will, as we always do, for our listeners, our viewers, and our communities. 

Jan Wade
WBA Board Chair