Most cellphones sold in the U.S. have FM chips hidden inside, but nearly half of them aren't activated. FCC Chairman Pai would like to see that number increase.

It seems odd that every day we hear about a new smartphone app that lets you do something innovative, yet these modern-day mobile miracles don't enable a key function offered by a 1982 Sony Walkman.

Why he cares: Chairman Pai laid out the benefits in a speech to broadcasters today:

  • For broadcasters, radio chips will let FM stations reach more listeners who are constantly consuming media on their cellphones.
  • For consumers, listening to over-the-air content via a chip will use "one-sixth of the battery life and less data" compared to streaming radio content.
  • During emergencies, cellphones would be able to receive broadcast emergency alerts, especially when the wireless network is down or overloaded.

What's in it for cellphone makers? Not much — and that's the problem. If consumers are listening to over-the-air radio stations, they're not streaming music on carriers' networks. But as more carriers embrace unlimited data plans (Verizon announced its own plan this week), they might be warming up to the FM chips. Still, it's a matter of consumer demand—and most consumers aren't hinging their smartphone purchase on radio capabilities.

What's next: Don't expect the FCC to force cellphone makers to turn on the chips. Pai said, "as a believer in free markets and the rule of law, I cannot support a government mandate requiring activation of these chips….it's best to sort this issue out in the marketplace."

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Updated 12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 18,814,178 — Total deaths: 707,754— Total recoveries — 11,361,953Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 4,823,891 — Total deaths: 158,256 — Total recoveries: 1,577,851 — Total tests: 58,920,975Map.
  3. Public health: Florida surpasses 500,000 confirmed casesFauci calls U.S. coronavirus testing delays "totally unacceptable."
  4. Business: America's next housing crisis.
  5. States: Virginia launches contact tracing app using specs from Apple and Google.
  6. Cities: L.A. mayor authorizes utilities shut-off at homes hosting large gatherings
  7. Politics: White House, Democrats remain "trillions of dollars apart" on stimulus talks.
23 mins ago - World

Hiroshima mayor warns of rise of nationalism on 75th anniversary

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) at the Memorial Cenotaph in the Peace Memorial Park during the 75th anniversary service for atomic bomb victims in Hiroshima, Japan, on Thursday. Photo: Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images

Hiroshima's Mayor Kazumi Matsui on Thursday urged the international community to work together to defeat the coronavirus pandemic and warned against an increase in "self-centered nationalism," per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: He said at a remembrance service on the atomic bombing of the Japanese city that the 1918 flu pandemic killed millions as countries fighting in World War I were unable to overcome the threat together, per DPR. "A subsequent upsurge in nationalism led to World War II," he added. The U.S. bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945 and Nagasaki three days later contributed to the end of World War II, but tens of thousands of people died. At the service, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lamented nuclear weapons' "inhumanity," but he didn't mention Japan's wartime past, WashPost noted.

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LeBron James on Trump NBA protest remarks: "We could care less"

The Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James kneels during the national anthem before the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on Wednesday. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

LeBron James responded on Wednesday night to President Trump's comments calling NBA players "disgraceful" for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and that he won't watch games because of the action.

The big picture: Trump has repeatedly criticized sports players for taking the knee since 2016. But James said during a news conference, "I really don’t think the basketball community are sad about losing his viewership, him viewing the game." November's elections marked "a big moment for us as Americans," he said. "If we continue to talk about, 'We want better, we want change,' we have an opportunity to do that," he added. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said the league will "respect peaceful protest."

Go deeper: LeBron James forms voting rights group to inspire Black voters