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BBC leads global push for FM-enabled smartphones

mobile drawing canvas 130hThe BBC is throwing its weight behind efforts to get FM radio chips enabled on smartphones. In an initiative called the Universal Smartphone Radio Project, the BBC is partnering with organizations in America and Australia to accelerate the push to activate FM chips in phones.

Research commissioned by the UK broadcaster found that the majority of smartphone owners want radio available in the devices. The study also highlighted the common concerns about that technology: mobile data costs, impact on battery life, and reception issues. The conclusion was that a hybrid solution of broadcast radio that incorporates the advantages of Internet radio would be the best fit for most listeners. In fact, the research found that almost two-thirds of device owners found a hybrid concept appealing.

RAIN Summit Europe text boxDAB (the digital-radio platform of the U.K., analogous to HD Radio in the U.S.) gets some emphasis in this campaign, as the BBC would like smartphone makers to include DAB hardware in their units. (Sales of DAB units are on the decline, according to The Telegraph.)

The BBC said it plans to research and develop a new radio unit in that style that could be used in mobile phones. It will be working with a coalition of broadcast industry parties, including Ibiquity, Emmis International, and Clear Channel (now iHeartMedia) on the subject. The presence of Emmis in the coalition lineup implies that Emmis-owned NextRadio is one working model for the group. (See our adoption chart of NextRadio, which announced one-million app downloads this week.)

Anna Washenko

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