Broadcasting from your iPod to be legalised

FM transmitters commonly used to send audio from iPods and other MP3 players to car stereos and home entertainment systems could be legal by autumn. Though widely used, the low power transmitters are actually illegal across Europe.

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has announced a proposal to legalise the transmitters and said that it will consult with industry and the public on the changes.

Ofcom can grant exemptions to the 1949 Wireless Telegraphy Act, which forbids any transmitting without exemption. None is currently granted for low power transmitters.

The devices have become popular among MP3 player users who have found it an easy way to make other machines, such as car stereos or home systems, play the material on their MP3 players. One, the iTrip, is marketed specifically at the market-leading iPod, although it is not made by Apple.

"Wherever possible Ofcom seeks to reduce the regulatory burden," said an Ofcom statement. "[It] aims to support the development of innovative radio technologies and applications. One way in which it can do this is to remove the need for spectrum users to apply for individual licences to authorise the use of radio equipment."

The regulator will consult for one month and hopes to have the new rules in place in autumn of this year.

The proposals also include a plan to allow anyone to use citizens' band, or CB, radio without a

licence from Ofcom. It said that 20,000 people still use the frequencies for communication with one another.

Also among the plans are measures to free up extra radio spectrum for other low power transmitters such as hearing aids, tracking systems and alarms.