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NRSC Updates RBDS Standard

Changes to make it easier for CE makers to include RBDS in devices that serve several nations, standard-setting body says

RBDS has experienced a resurgence in this country and the standards-setting body, the National Radio Systems Committee, this weekend adopted an updated version of its analog FM subcarrier-based data broadcasting system standard. The technical standards-setting body NRSC is co-sponsored by NAB and CEA.

The revised U.S. RBDS standard is now more tightly integrated with the European RDS standard. NRSC-4-B will simplify design and development of compatible devices by transmission equipment and receiver manufacturers, according to NRC leaders. In addition, NRSC-4-B includes some new “Program Type” codes that better reflect new programming choices available to listeners.

The RDS Usage Working Group developed NRSC-4-B. Steve Davis, senior vice president, Engineering and Capital Management, Clear Channel Broadcasting, Inc., heads the RDS working group. The Radio Broadcast Data System Subcommittee adopted the standard. Barry Thomas, vice president of engineering, Radio, Lincoln Financial Media, heads the RDS Subcommittee.

Thomas and NRSC Chairman Milford Smith, vice president, Radio Engineering with Greater Media, told Radio World that what the members did will make it easier for stations to implement RDS in a consistent way, which, in turn, will make it easier for consumer electronics manufacturers to add RBDS to devices that can be used in several countries.

Stations now use RBDS to transmit title and artist information and real time traffic information alongside their analog FM broadcasts, as well as to enable music tagging. NRSC leaders are hoping the revisions will encourage the development of other RBDS uses.

The NRSC worked on the RBDS issue for a year and a half, according to Thomas.

The effort by Davis’ working group continues as it turns towards developing best practices for implementing RBDS.

NRSC-4-B, “United States RBDS Standard – Specification of the Radio Broadcast Data System,” includes only the sections that differ from the European version of the standard, IEC 62106, “Specification of the Radio Data System for VHF/FM sound broadcasting in the frequency range from 87.5 to 108.0 MHz.”

The updated standard will be available for free on the NRSC’s website, following a final, procedural review estimated to last about two weeks.