Glossary of UK TV and Radio Terms

Term Description
AV Stands for “Audio Video” – You’ll often find this in connection with setting a video or DVD recorder to record from something other than an analogue TV channel – for example, a set-top box plugged into a video recorder’s SCART socket won’t appear on a numbered channel on the video recorder – it will be on one of the video recorder’s Line Input channels (sometimes labeled AV , Av1 , AUX or Line In”). For help with AV / Line in feeds and connecting equipment, see our TV Connection Help page.
CAM Top Up TV CAMCAM stands for Conditional Access Module. Some Freeview set-top boxes and digital TV sets have a CAM slot, which means that you can plug a CAM adapter into this slot, and then plug a subscription card (such as for ESPN) into the CAM adapter slot, to get to the extra channels.

For more, see our Using a CAM section.

Catch-up TV Missed a TV show from the last seven days? If it’s on BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and some of Sky’s channels, you should be able to watch that show online on a computer. catch-up TV is also available on Virgin, BT Vision and Freesat. Only BT Vision offers catch-up from BBC, ITV, 4 and 5. More on Catch-up TV.
Coax Co-ax aerial plugPronounced ‘coe-axe’, You’ll find a coaxial cable in the audio/video world – this is a piece of cable with a single shielded core, terminated in a co-ax plug (pictured) or socket. The most common use of coax cable is to feed from a TV aerial into a TV or set-top box RF (aerial) input
DAB Digital Audio Broadcasting. National, regional and local radio stations that can only be received by special DAB radio receivers.

More details: DAB Digital Radio

DRM Two definitions, as it’s an abbreviation that’s used for more than one thing…

  1. DRM (Radio) – Digital Radio Mondiale. This is a radio broadcast system that uses Short, Medium and Long Wave AM transmitters to get near-FM quality. Not overly-common in the UK. More details at
  2. DRM (Music / Video) – Digital Rights Management. System used to prevent music and video files from being copied and played without permission.

Digital Audio Broadcasting. National, regional and local radio stations that can only be received by special DAB radio receivers.

More details: DAB Digital Radio Explained

DTT Digital Terrestrial Television. This refers to digital TV that can be received on a standard TV aerial (as opposed to cable or satellite). In the UK, Freeview (formerly onDigital and ITV Digital), operates DTT services

More details: Freeview Explained page, Digital TV

DVR Stands for Digital Video Recorder – a box that records TV programmes onto a hard-disk as opposed to a video cassette (e.g. Sky+). On this site, we use the alternative acronym for this type of product, PVR. For more, See our PVR Advice page
Ensemble A digital radio (DAB) term for a collection of radio channels on a single frequency. See Multiplex, below
EPG NetGem EPGElectronic Programme Guide – Associated with a digital TV set-top box, this refers to built-in software on the set-top box or interactive TV that shows you on-screen listings for TV shows. Some boxes have EPGs limited to “now and next”, whilst others support seven days worth of programme listings.

EPGs with advance programme listings are particularly useful for setting up recordings – some boxes are equipped with built-in hard disks (PVRs, such as Sky+), and the EPG allows select a programme from the schedule and get the box to record the programme onto disk just by selecting it from the programme listing.

Freeview Digital TV service that offers around 50 channels of TV and radio – service received via a standard TV aerial and a special digital terrestrial TV receiver. More on our Freeview Explained page. Frequently mistaken for Free-to-view satellite
HDMI HDMI plugStands for “High Definition Media Interface”. This is the connector used to connect most high-definition equipment (such as the Sky+HD or BT Vision box) to a hi-def TV set.

More on our HDMI Help page. If you’re looking for an HDMI cable, switch box or converter, try TV Cables or Maplin Electronics

HDTV HDTV offers higher-quality TV pictures. Already available in the US and Japan, High Definition TV is now beginning to take off in Europe and the UK.

For more on High Definition TV, see our HD TV page

HomePlug Also known as a Powerline adapter. Pair of devices that send data over a home’s mains wiring. Handy for connecting a broadband router to a BT Vision or Freesat box, to let you watch Internet TV on a TV set.
ID Radio and TV expression meaning Ident or jingle
IDTV Integrated Digital TV – TV set with built-in digital TV receiver. Receive Freeview without a separate set-top box
IRN Independent Radio News. News organisation that make national news bulletins, news copy and audio available to UK commercial radio stations. Currently operated by Sky News Radio.

More details: | IRN Information

Interactive BBC InteractiveIn the context of digital TV, many TV channel providers supply digital interactive content that is available via the red button on your digital remote control. This content may include: access to pages of digital teletext, games, additional information on programmes, online voting, shopping and competitions.

Some interactive elements can be truly interactive, meaning that you can use a phone line connected to your box to connect in real-time, perhaps to vote, enter a competition or play a game. This tends to apply to Sky only (as their boxes have a built-in modem for pay-per-view movies).

Internet TV / IPTV TV service that can be watched via an Internet connection, not via a transmitter or satellite. Provided you have a fast enough connection, you can watch live TV, catch-up TV or on-demand TV via the Internet. In the UK, Virgin Media (Cable) and BT Vision (BT Broadband) are the two big-players in Internet TV. More details: Internet TV Explained.
Intro Introduction. In the case of a song, the period of time from a song’s start to the moment the vocals (singing) starts
ISDN Integrated Services Digital Networks

A digital phone line. Commonly used to send data via a modem. Used in radio to send high-quality voice (such as news reports, voice-overs for commercials, or for travel news)

Liner A scripted link or slogan, used to keep the station’s on-air sound standard
LNB This stands for Low Noise Block downconverter – Associated with satellite TV dishes, this is the box that sits on an arm of a satellite dish and collects signal from the dish. Signal is fed from the LNB via coaxial cable to a satellite decoder box that’s connected to a TV.

More details: LNB Help and Advice

MCPS Mechanical Copyright Protection Society. Body that collects royalties in respect of the reproduction of music for use on-air or online. Much of the background music played by radio stations, specifically jingles and music used in adverts is produced by MCPS members. MCPS is part of the “PRS for Music” brand.

More details:

Modulator See RF Modulator
Multiplex (MUX) A Multiplex (abbreviated to MUX) is a term to describe a single broadcast frequency that contains multiple compressed channels.

No clearer? OK, an example: When you receive normal BBC1, you are tuning in to a single frequency in the UHF range 21-65. Also in this range are the other main TV channels (ITV, Ch4, etc). Digital TV (Freeview) has a collection of frequencies too, but rather than each frequency carrying one TV channel, it contains lots (normally around 8). These are all ‘multiplexed’ together into one frequency, and you need a special decoder to ‘undo’ this multiplexing.

  • TV: If you are a Freeview user and find that there are groups of channels that you can’t get, it probably means that you’re having a problem with one or two multiplexes. There are six multiplexes in use for Freeview. A list of what’s on each multiplex can be found on our Freeview Channels List. For reception help, see our Freeview Reception Help page.
  • Radio: For a list of digital radio channels, on each DAB multiplex, try the Wornot site. Note that the term ‘ensemble’ is commonly used in digital radio – effectively, it’s a multiplex. For more on DAB Digital Radio, see our DAB section
NDS In the satellite TV world, the initials NDS are associated with a secure TV encryption service known as Videoguard, produced by the NDS group. Some satellite receivers display ND or NDS to represent that a channel is encrypted by Videoguard, and therefore requires a subscription before it can be viewed.
NICAM Stands for Near Instantaneous Companded Audio Multiplex.

From the early 1990s, TV companies in the UK started broadcasting programmes in NICAM – effectively providing digital stereo, not mono, sounds with TV signals. To get stereo sound, your TV or recorder needs to support NICAM – fortunately, most new equipment does.

OB Outside Broadcast
Obit Obituary. Procedure to be put in place in the event of local, national or international emergency, or the death of certain eminent or much loved figures, including some members of the British Royal Family
OfCom Office of Communication. TV and Radio regulators (Formerly ITC, the Radio Authority, the Radiocommunications Agency and Broadcasting Standards Commission). Responsible for TV and Radio fairness and standards.

More details:

Padding A term you may come across with digital video recorders (PVRs) – Padding, or recording offset, is a setting on a digital recorder that allows you to add a number of minutes of recording time to the scheduled start and end times of programmes, so the recorder will record a few extra minutes in case a program doesn’t start quite when it should. More on Sky+ padding
PFL Pre-fade Listen. Facility on a mixing desk that allows the operator to listen to a piece of audio and set levels before putting the audio to air. Also referred to as ‘cue’
Phono An RCA Phono PlugRCA phono plugs and sockets are commonly used on hi-fi and TV audio and video equipment and are used to connect audio and video equipment. Typically white and red are for stereo audio (white=left, red=right), and yellow is for video. For phono leads and connectors, try TV Cables or Maplin Electronics
Powerline Adapter Also known as a HomePlug. Pair of devices that send data over a home’s mains wiring. Handy for connecting a broadband router to a BT Vision or Freesat box, to let you watch Internet TV on a TV set.
PPL Phonographic Performance Ltd. Body that collects royalties in respect of music played by radio stations on behalf of record companies

More details:

PPM Peak Program Meter. Meters on a mixing desk that monitor audio levels
PRS Performing Right Society. Body that collects royalties in respect of music played by radio stations for artists and composers

More details:

PVR Stands for Personal Video Recorder. Also known as a DVR (Digital Video Recorder). This is a set-top box that replaces the traditional video recorder. It contains a hard-disk and allows TV shows to be recorded and played back. Many support dual-receivers so that two shows can be recorded simultaneously. Features such as ‘Pause and Rewind’ of live TV are often supported. Sky+ is a common PVR. More on our PVR page
Regions (DVD) Region LogoMost commercial DVDs are ‘region-encoded’. This means that they can only be played in certain regions of the world. This is done for a number of reasons including variable pricing and copyright. Typically a DVD player will only be able to play discs that have been encoded with that player’s home region (e.g. Region 2 for the UK). Most DVD cases will state the region somewhere, possibly with an icon like the one on the right.

Here are the disc regions:

  • Region 0 “All” – Will play in all regions
  • Region 1 – United States, Canada
  • Region 2 – Europe, South Africa, Middle East, Japan
  • Region 3 – South-East and East Asia
  • Region 4 – Central/South America, Mexico, Caribbean, Australia
  • Region 5 – Former Soviet Union, North Korea, India, Africa
  • Region 6 – China

Multi-region? If you’re likely to want to play discs from other regions around the world, look for a DVD player that’s “multi-region”, as this will handle playback of discs from all of the regions.

For more on Regions, see DVD Recorders – Region FAQ

RF Loopthrough CoaxCommonly associated with set-top boxes or video recorders. RF stands for Radio Frequency, and means that, in the case of a TV signal, it’s transmitted on a TV frequency (‘channel’).

The image to the right shows an RF connector, known as a co-ax plug. A set-top box with an RF loopthrough means that there’s an “in” and “out” co-ax aerial socket, so that a TV signal can go into the box, and then come out again to feed another piece of equipment, such as a video recorder, regardless of whether the set-top box is switched on or off.

RF Modulator Commonly associated with set-top boxes, or video equipment that you want to connect to a TV using a TV channel, as opposed to a “line in” / AV connector. If you’re trying to connect some equipment to a TV or video that doesn’t have a SCART, the equipment will need to have a ‘modulated’ output (check the equipment’s manual if you’re not sure it has a modulator).

A piece of equipment (such as a set-top box or video recorder) that has a Modulated RF output, is one that can ‘re-broadcast’ its output onto a TV channel, so that your TV set can ‘tune in’ to the signal in the same way as you can tune your TV set into a certain TV channel (such as BBC1). Effectively, you can choose which channel your set-top box appears on, so that it doesn’t clash with other channels.

An example of a common use for a modulator is if you’re trying to connect a DVD player that has a SCART socket into a TV set that only has an aerial socket. For this to work, you’d need a modulator that can take the signal from a SCART socket “line in”, and convert it such that if you plug an aerial from the TV to the modulator, you can tune your TV into the converted output of the DVD. See our TV with no SCART page for details of using a modulator.

RGB RGB stands for ‘Red, Green, Blue’ – the primary colours used to make up a TV picture. On this site, it’s commonly used when referring to outputs from a set-top box into a TV. All TVs can cope with what’s referred to as a ‘composite’ signal, but RGB is generally regarded as superior to a composite signal. It’s more noticeable on when displaying an onscreen menu – you’ll notice sharper edges and a better definition.

If using equipment that supports RGB, you’ll need an RGB SCART cable, connected to a TV that has an RGB SCART socket. It’s normally possible to switch between RGB and Composite on your TV, so you can judge what’s best.

For more technical information on RGB and Composite, see the SyncBlaster FAQ.

ROT Record Off Transmission. A recording of what was transmitted on-air
RAJAR Radio Joint Audience Research. Body that conduct research into radio listening in the UK, providing audience statistics

More details:

RSL Restricted Service licence – Short-term radio broadcasting licence issued by OfCom (formerly The Radio Authority). Normally, these are low-powered local stations operating for 28 days or less.
Satellite Hundreds of the things, orbiting the earth. On this site, commonly associated with satellite TV. In the UK, the main provider is Sky Digital. See our Sky Digital and Free Satellite TV pages for more.
SCART SCART plugA SCART connector is something you’ll find on many modern TV sets, DVD equipment, video recorders and some games units. A SCART plug is rectangular and has 21 pins that carry audio, video, switching commands and an earth.

For more help with SCARTs, see our TV FAQ page. Also, see our SCART adapters and splitters section.

If you’re looking for SCART leads or accessories, we recommend Maplin.

Segue The linking of two bits of audio together seamlessly on-air
Setpal SetPal is a trademarked technology used in some Freeview receivers. It’s software designed for digital TV receivers that handles reception, menus, digital teletext, etc.
Smartlink SmartLink is a protocol found on some Sony TV sets, set-top boxes, video and DVD recorders, that transmits commands over a SCART lead to other compatible equipment – the practical upshot is that you could get your Sony DVD recorder to record what’s being seen on your Sony TV with a single button-press, or press Play on a DVD to have the DVD start and the TV switch to the correct Line-In socket.

The protocol is used by other manufacturers under different names: Megalogic (Grundig), Easylink / Cinemalink (Philips), Q-Link (Panasonic), T-V Link (JVC) or Euro View Link (Toshiba).

STB Standing for ‘Set-top Box’, this refers to a digital TV receiver that adds extra channels to your TV. The following types of Set-top boxes are common in the UK

For more, see our Digital TV Advice page.

Transponder Made up from the words “transmitter” and “responder”. In the world of satellite TV, it’s a frequency band that contains a collection of TV channels that’s uploaded from the ground and distributed out to viewers from the orbiting satellite. As an example, you can find a collection of BBC TV and Radio stations on Transponder 46 on the Sky Digital system – Transponder 46 is on 10.788GHz Vertical.
UHF Standing for ‘Ultra High Frequency’, this is frequency band where television signals are found. Typically, your TV receiver will be able to tune to channels between 21 and 68 on the UHF band.
VCR Video Cassette Recorder. Now being phased out by DVD recorders and PVRs
VHF Standing for ‘Very High Frequency’, this is frequency band where FM radio signals are found. Typically, your radio receiver will be able to tune to channels between 88 and 108MHz on the VHF band.
VO Voice-over. Typically a TV or Radio presenter or actor reading a script
VOD Video-on-demand. Some digital TV services, notably Virgin Media and BT Vision, have a large library of TV shows and movies that you can watch on your TV over the Internet, when you want. BBC iPlayer is another example of video-on-demand, in this case, commonly on a computer not a TV.


  • Digby Maass

    There are various abbreviations on the freeview epg info such as HD, AD, SD which I can work out but the one that defeats me is G. There is absolutely no information anywhere that I can find that sets out these abbreviations. Any idea what G stands for?

  • I have a PCI philips 7130 already installed in my pc but i do bot have the installation CD, how do you help me?

  • Rip

    Do a search for ‘philips 7130’ on Internet Archive and some drivers pop up in the listing. I don’t know how good they would be but it might be worth a try.

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