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30 l November 2012

broadcastreport UNITED KINGDOM RadioDNS moves ahead

It’s been a significant year for hybrid radio. The technology was highlighted at both IBC in Amsterdam and IFA in Berlin. Nick Piggott of RadioDNS tells Kevin Hiltonabout the background to the project, how broadcasters can tailor it to their needs and why combining FM with digital and the internet could revitalise radio

NEW INTERACTIVE services linking digital and analogue radio broadcasts to the internet were launched last month on both BBC services and German public network ARD. RadioDNS is an attempt to

combine the practicality and familiarity of FM with the additional data and connectivity promised by digital radio when it was introduced in the 1990s. Standing for Domain Name System, DNS is a computer

naming protocol that associates specific information with domain names and generates IP addresses for the main services and additional data. The idea is to bring

interactivity to good old

analogue radio while at the same time enhancing and expanding the capabilities of digital formats like DAB, as well as media streaming services. RadioDNS is hailed as an open, hybrid technology and was

Nick Piggott at IBC holding a RadioDNS-equipped smartphone

the format grew out of the “maturing of a lot of technological ideas” that have been brought into “one quite simple concept”. This, he explains, focuses not just “all the strengths of broadcast radio and the internet” but also the respective advantages of analogue FM and digital radio. RadioDNS offers radio over

DAB/DAB+, DRM/DRM+, FM, the US HD Radio standard and IP, all with access to information about the programmes through internet connections. Because the core technology only enables the link between broadcast radio and the web, RadioDNS includes several sub-projects to further extend

originally conceived in 2008 under a joint project between UK commercial group Global Radio and the BBC. The EBU launched its own

research into hybrid radio at IBC 2010 and at this year’s show RadioDNS announced that “for the first time there has been a consensus to adopt common standard hybrid radio across Europe and the US”. During the IFA consumer electronics exhibition in Berlin in September, German public broadcaster ARD introduced two of the component technologies of hybrid radio – RadioVIS and RadioEPG – for its DAB network. The BBC is also using these for images and text on Radio 1 and 1Xtra, as well as more straightforward RadioDNS on all other national FM and digital networks. Nick Piggott, head of creative technology at Global Radio and chair of RadioDNS, says

capabilities. Right now these are: RadioVIS (an abbreviation of visualisation) to add test and graphics, which is available on receivers including the Pure Sensia and Revo Axis, plus some mobile phone apps; RadioEPG (electronic programme guide), offering not just schedules but also the capability to switch between streaming and broadcast radio, in addition to logos and a ‘universal preset’ to find stations anywhere; and RadioTAG, allowing the listener to push a button during a song or programme, creating a link to the broadcaster, which can send more information on the subject later. Piggott describes RadioDNS

as a “framework”, with the decision on how to use it and develop an interactive strategy left up to the broadcasters. “There is a lot that is open to a broadcaster,” he explains. “They can have something very simple,

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