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NRSC Slates RBDS Update

Arlington, Va. — The RBDS (Radio Broadcast Data System) technology for analog FM radio will get a digital-era update, thanks to work that the National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC) is undertaking.

Existing FM radios equipped with RBDS feature a one-line scrolling-text display to display the call letters and program format of analog FM stations equipped with RBDS transmitters, which broadcast this information as an inaudible data stream. The NRSC, a joint committee of the CEA and National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), hopes in the first half of 2005 to update the standard so that RBDS displays will emulate the data displays of current satellite radios and coming digital-AM/FM [HD Radio] tuners, which display artist and title simultaneously in a static rather than scrolling presentation, a CEA spokesperson said.

An updated RBDS standard will enable HD Radios to maintain a consistent display when a digital FM signal reverts to analog under less-than-ideal reception conditions, the spokesperson added.

RBDS radios also let listeners search for RDS stations by program format and display other information broadcast by RBDS stations. In an RBDS car radio, cassette or CD playback can be automatically interrupted when an emergency message is broadcast by an RDS station.

In 2000, about 20 percent of FM stations were RBDS-equipped, the CEA said at the time.