Friday, October 27, 2006

iTrip makes unlikely bedfellows

Apparently Christian broadcasters and National Public Radio both agree on the same thing: iTrips are evil. These devices, which have been banned in the UK, act as little FM remodulators so that you can listen to your satellite radio (or iPod) in your car even if your car only has a wimpy little FM radio, by (re)broadcasting the signal at a supposedly low power such that your car radio will pick it up. The problem, according to NPR, is that a substantial fraction of these devices exceed their FCC-mandated power restrictions. These systems are often set to use channels at the lower end of the FM band (most commonly 88.1 MHz), which is principally occupied (per the FCC's licensing plan) by community and non-profit radio stations, a space mainly occupied by Christian broadcasters and public radio stations. The Christians presumably aren't happy by having their worship services randomly interrupted by someone else's gangsta rap, or by Howard Stern, just because one of their listeners drove by someone with one of these devices set with the power higher than it should be. NPR is bothered enough by this that they've petitioned the FCC to recall the devices. The FCC has already said that many of XM's devices exceed the legally mandated power limitations, a finding that could easily lead to a required recall for XM.

(From TechDirt.)