Friday, September 6, 2013

The end of the car radio?

Radio Ink

My Editorial about AM/FM removal from cars has caused great concern in the radio industry. My mistake is that I put something in quotes from my recollections of the panel and the discussions afterward and my quote was inaccurate. Furthermore, my mistake was that I did not verify what was said by contacting the car companies directly for confirmation before running the story. As I received concerns from within the industry I looked at the video and learned my quote was inaccurate. My editorial stated two inaccuracies: I quoted, "AM and FM are being eliminated from the dash of two car companies within two years and will be eliminated from the dash of all cars within five years." The fact is, my recollection was incorrect and this was not said on stage as I reported. 

So that I can abide by my history of journalistic integrity, here is exact and explicit documentation of what was said, where I thought I heard that quote, which I pulled from the video of the session. 

Specifically, Thilo Koslowski, Gartner Research's VP and Practice Leader, Automotive, Car, ICT, Mobility stated: 

"The changes we are talking about, they will actually really happen over the next couple of years. They are beginning to now, kind of bloom in certain areas where you have technology readily available like the Bay Area, but eventually you will see this everywhere. The challenge that I see is radio listening in the car consuming content is not going away but the way you do this and the platform that you use, platform meaning the technology that I use in order to get to that content will be very different."

Rhoads: "So what I want to know is if I own a radio station, and I'm not trying to put you guys on the spot, I really love what you're saying…"

Kowslowski: "Please do, please do."

Rhoads: "But if I own a radio station and I've got a lot of money invested in transmitters, or HD Radio or otherwise, and everything's gonna go to IP and you'rre gonna pull that AM and FM receiver to save twelve cents out of each car, I want to know it. Do you think that's likely to happen?"

Koslowski: "Absolutely. I think you will see that happening."

Rhoads: "When will that happen?"

Koslowski: "That will not happen over the next five to ten years, but past that absolutely." 

Rhoads turns to audience: "Five to ten years, gang."

Koslowski: "No, but you will see already some changes happening over the next couple of years. Before it goes away completely that will take a little bit longer but think about it, how many cars can you buy today that have a cassette player? How many cars will you buy going forward that have a CD player? Not that many anymore. There are companies that actually are designing radios that don't have AM."

Rhoads: "Who are they?"

Koslowski: Shakes head.

Rhoads: "No no, who are they? You can’t bring it up without telling us who they are." 

Koslowski: Shakes head.

Rhoads: "You can’t say it, it's confidential?"

Though I honestly believed I was accurately reporting what was said, the video reflects that I did indeed misquote what was said and that I clearly thought Mr. Koslowski has stated that the changes would occur within five to ten years when he actually said that it would not happen within that time from but sometime thereafter. His statement about changes happening over the next couple of years was also not as clear as I believed it to be.

My quote referencing two companies in two years was not an exact quote, and my reference to five years was inaccurate. What I wrote was based on my recollection of the session and conversations after the session. In hindsight, I should have waited until I could view the video and put the exact quotes and also should have not just assumed Mr. Koslowski was representing the automotive companies, which is why I should have contacted them.

Furthermore I made this statement based on my recollections from the panel and the behind the scenes discussion: "according to the Convergence panel, radio will be gone from new cars within five years." It was my opinion and was inaccurate.

My editorial has caused many within the radio industry much grief and therefore, I feel it best to rescind my original quote and issue an official apology. I care deeply about this industry. I've been a radio advocate for over four decades and I have always had radio's best interest at heart. My intent in the editorial was to give the industry a heads up about possible looming threats. I was deeply concerned because of my passion and concern for an industry and improperly measured the impact it would have. I truly regret any confusion or misinformation that resulted, and I sincerely apologize for the error.

There is good news in all of this, which is support from one major carmaker. GM issued a statement that they intend to keep AM/FM in their cars. See statement. Furthermore, Ford spoke to Editor Ed Ryan stating their support for radio. Both are a silver lining to this cloud.

Again, I apologize if I created problems or issues for anyone in this industry, which I dearly love.


Eric Rhoads
Ink Tank
Eric Rhoads

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