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TuneIn offers AM broadcasters free access to premium products

Licensed AM radio stations will get free access to TuneIn On Air, which includes a listing in the TuneIn directory and supplemental measurement products.

Licensed AM radio stations will get free access to TuneIn On Air, which includes a listing in the TuneIn directory and supplemental measurement products.

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Streaming audio platform TuneIn says it wants to support AM radio broadcasters by offering licensed stations free access to its premium directory and measurement products.

Starting this week, licensed AM radio broadcasters can apply for free access to TuneIn On Air, which puts streaming radio stations in front of the platform’s 30 million monthly users and comes bundled with data-driven products.

“The future of AM Radio is on the top of all of our minds,” Richard Stern, the CEO of TuneIn, said in a statement emailed to The Desk. “TuneIn is committed to helping AM Radio thrive in the digital world. It offers such a vast and rich library of audio programming that is integral to millions of Americans’ daily lives.”

TuneIn On Air normally costs $250 per quarter, but has been offered as a free value add to licensed not-for-profit and community-oriented radio stations. The decision to extend free access to AM radio broadcasters comes at a time when public interest groups and lawmakers are conducting public outreach initiatives touting the outsized importance of AM radio in reaching citizens with public safety messaging.

Last month, some federal lawmakers introduced a proposal that would mandate the reception of AM radio broadcasts in new vehicles sold in the United States, following an announcement by Ford and other carmakers to remove traditional AM radio tuners from their electric vehicle fleet. (Ford has since walked back the move, affirming it will support AM radio in existing and new cars sold through the end of the year.)

Stern was one of several executives to point out flaws in the proposed AM radio mandate, saying a law that would require electric vehicles offer unfettered access to AM radio broadcasts “is like demanding iPhones support rotary dialing.”

“There are more efficient technologies, such as [digital audio broadcasting] and [Internet Protocol-based systems] to deliver AM broadcasts to listeners,” Stern said at the time. “These new technologies point to a brighter future for the art of broadcasting and allow broadcasters to more meaningfully connect with modern audiences.”

He continued: “I think, as an industry, we have trouble decoupling the content of radio, and the vital relationship our listeners have with our content, from the nuts and bolts of distribution. AM Radio content will live on and thrive long after the last broadcast tower falls or car radio is replaced with a modern infotainment system.”

TuneIn wants to ensure licensed AM radio broadcasters are able to reach audio enthusiasts who have long ditched their transistor radios for streaming platforms. By offering TuneIn On Air for free, the company is hoping AM radio stations will start to embrace the reality that times are changing, and that streaming through their platform is an added value to their traditional terrestrial broadcasts.

“Offering AM broadcasters the opportunity to digitize through TuneIn On Air for free is one way we can build a brighter future together,” Stern said.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).