This article is more than 1 year old

At last, someone's taking Apple to task for, uh, not turning on iPhone FM radio chips

But what of criticism of FCC boss over hurricanes?


Ajit Pai made big play of the work the FCC was doing in Texas when that storm hit and even flew in to see things on the ground, giving repeated anecdotes about what he saw and the people he spoke to in subsequent speeches from Washington, DC, to San Francisco.

However, critics say that fly‑in visits and social media postings are worthless compared to what the FCC can do as a federal regulator. Why isn't Pai pushing for hearings? Because of what will likely result from them.

Rosenworcel wants the FCC staff and commissioners to hold hearings on the ground in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico to learn first-hand what happened. She notes that would result in a report that would "need to include a framework for rebuilding so that the communities with damaged communications are not permanently relegated to the wrong side of the digital divide."

"I hope this agency has the guts to do this," she added.

But as he has repeatedly demonstrated, Pai takes his cue from President Trump and the Republican Party when it comes to politics, and the cable industry when it comes to policies.

Trump caused some degree of amazement when he failed for several days to address the devastation in Puerto Rico and then spoke repeatedly about its debt problems rather than the humanitarian crisis.


Pai is currently up for reappointment in the Senate – sparking one former FCC staffer, Gigi Sohn, to argue that lawmakers should refuse to do so because of his hands-off regulatory approach and apparent closeness to the cable and telco industries.

There is even a campaign to press Congress into firing him, which, inevitably, has led to an equally angry response from the other side of the political spectrum.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has gone so far as to accuse Pai of having "betrayed the American consumer at every turn" and having "made a mockery" of the FCC.

Ultimately, Pai is going to do nothing that would cause the taciturn president and conservative Republicans to question his suitability. What he will do, though, is criticize Apple for not turning on FM chips and blame them for risking public safety. Now that is a position you can get behind without actually having to do anything. ®

Updated to add

Apple has said its iPhone 7 and 8 do not have FM radio receivers nor any suitable antennas, so it is not possible to pick up FM broadcasts using their handsets.

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