Program information codes for radio broadcasting stations


The Technical Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (B-TAC) has decided on a standardized way for broadcasters to use program information (PI) codes as part of their transmission of RDS/RBDS (Radio (Broadcast) Data System) services.

In order to ensure proper operation of RBDS FM receivers and other devices that make use of RBDS signals, stations must transmit a unique PI code. The PI code allows suitable receivers to identify the programming being received. ThePI code structure contains 16 bits, with 4 bits exclusively allocated for country identification. All codes are in hexadecimal format.

The NRSC-4 standard outlines an algorithm in which PI codes are determined in the United States using the existing 4-letter station call sign. Current PI code assignments allocated for Canada by the NRSC-4 standard are C000-CFFF (with certain exceptions) and B_02 to B_09 for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) network stations.

Current Status:

The current state of PI codes in Canada may fall into one of the categories below:

  1. Some stations may be transmitting PI codes that do not fall into the accepted format
  2. Some stations may be transmitting a default PI code that came pre-programmed with the RBDS encoders
  3. Some stations may not be transmitting a PI code at all.

The CBC has created a spreadsheet tool using Microsoft Excel that allows a user to select a call sign (using drop-down letter combinations), and then outputs the corresponding PI code. The CBC has allowed Industry Canada to post this online so users may access the tool to generate a PI code for a given station.

Instructions on using spreadsheet:

  1. Download the below file onto your computer.
  2. Open the '*.zip' file and extract the file entitled "RBDS PI Code Algorith v1.xls". Save this file on your computer as well.
  3. Upon opening the Excel file, the first three columns at the top left indicate the call sign to be entered. Select the desired call sign using the drop-down letter options. Three and four-letter call signs may be chosen.
  4. Once the desired call sign is entered, the appropriate hexadecimal PI code will be output on the far right of the spreadsheet (under the 'Conversion DEC => HEXA' header).

PI Codes in Canada (Zip File, 444 KB)
Updated: October 26, 2007