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Sprint first carrier to sign on to FM radio service

January 8, 2013

Sprint announced a preliminary arrangement with American radio industry representatives that will enable customers to listen to local FM radio stations on their mobile phones.

Sprint said it will be the first time a U.S. wireless carrier would offer the ability to directly access local FM radio on their phones. Consumers currently can listen to radio on their smartphones but only by streaming the station over the Internet.

The new service will be delivered through the NextRadio tuner application, expected to be available later this year. Other applications will eventually follow. Only certain Android and Windows phones will be able to use the service.

Jeff Smulyan, CEO of Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications, acted as principal negotiator for the radio industry in arranging the deal with Sprint.

"Today is a remarkable day for our industry," Smulyan said in a prepared statement. "I am gratified by the unity I have seen in our industry. It seems every broadcaster I know has supported this effort."

Smulyan said Emmis and the National Association of Broadcasters developed the tuner and have spent several years trying to persuade cellphone providers to use it.

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