A project demonstrating the viability of an HD Radio Electronic Program Guide (EPG) ecosystem for AM and FM U.S. radio broadcasting has received approval and funding to proceed to a second phase, culminating in an on-air EPG field trial later this year.
The project is the work of a consortium led by BIA Advisory Services and Broadcast Signal Lab, with the cooperation of Unique Interactive, a UK-based company, and is funded by the NAB Flexible Advanced Services for Television and Radio On All Devices (NAB FASTROAD) technology advocacy program. In the consortium’s first phase of work last year, it researched the industry’s needs and preferences on this subject, and developed a comprehensive proposal for an HD Radio EPG service architecture. This proposal, delivered to NAB FASTROAD last fall, included several key findings, which are detailed in the project’s Business Requirements and Use Cases document. It is available for industry review at
The project has already generated a number of important conclusions. For example, implementing an EPG was found to be inherently more difficult for radio than for television broadcasting due to a number of factors, including the mobile nature of radio listening and the wide variation in radio receiver displays. Taking these challenges into account, the consortium has proposed a design for the U.S. HD Radio EPG system that incorporates several potential design architectures accommodating a range of delivery styles.
In the project’s second phase, the consortium will continue to collect feedback from the industry on the evolving concept of an HD Radio EPG architecture, and move toward end-to-end trial operation of an EPG service in both laboratory and on-air environments. The proposed system builds upon an EPG-delivery specification developed by iBiquity Digital and expands its scope to interface with broadcast data authoring methods currently employed at radio stations. The proposal also considers EPG delivery to a wide variety of receiver types and displays (including fixed and mobile IP-connected devices), and accommodates the possibility of third-party "service bureaus" providing EPG data for stations or groups.
Later in 2009, the project will conclude with several months of on-air field trials in Boston and Providence, which were selected for their substantial numbers of HD Radio stations on-air, including many with coverage areas that overlap into the adjacent market (which provides additional challenges to mobile receivers in keeping a current EPG).