Ford Canada has confirmed that it’s transitioning away from AM radio in all of its vehicles globally, including those destined for the Canadian market.
The revelation follows word last month, the automaker was on track to drop AM radio from all vehicles manufactured in the U.S., beginning in 2024, following the lead of Volvo, and in addition to BMW, Mazda, Polestar, Rivian, Tesla, and Volkswagen, who with Ford, have already removed AM from their electric vehicles due to drivetrain interference.
“Ford will continue to offer internet streaming through mobile apps, FM or digital options for customers to hear their favourite AM radio programming as the global transition away from AM radio continues,” a Ford Canada spokesperson told Broadcast Dialogue, in an emailed statement. “This transition includes removing amplitude modulation – the definition of AM in this case – from most new and updated models we bring to market globally.”
“Customers that love AM radio can still access it with internet streaming through mobile apps, FM or digital options in Ford vehicles. In North America, Ford SYNC allows for streaming audio from customers’ smartphones via USB and Bluetooth to access their favourite apps, including through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Many Ford vehicles have HD Radio and offer SiriusXM satellite radio,” the company continued.
Canada is still served by more than 180 AM stations, with the bulk of those in B.C. and Ontario. Many of the country’s heritage news and information stations continue to be heard on the AM dial, including those under the banner of the Corus Radio and iHeartRadio talk networks, which encompass stations in major and medium markets across the country, in addition to the CBC’s AM transmitters.
Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) President Kevin Desjardins says the factor that automakers aren’t taking into consideration is that in a country as geographically broad as Canada, being able to reliably stream radio can’t be taken for granted.
“We’ve been monitoring developments in this area, and generally up until now, removing AM radio receivers has been mostly an issue in European cars and electric vehicles. This is the first major announcement we’ve heard from a North American auto maker,” said Desjardins. “It marks another profound challenge to AM radio, and it is unfortunate that the assumption is made that internet streaming of stations will be a suitable substitute. In a country as geographically expansive as Canada, AM radio remains an essential way to keep people in rural and remote areas connected and informed, especially in the case of emergencies.”
The issue has sparked a lobby campaign by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in the U.S., highlighting AM’s importance in cars. Senator Ed Markey is a vocal opponent of the move saying it contravenes the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) system for public safety alerts.
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