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In broadcasting, a commercial bumper, ident bumper or break-bumper (often shortened to bump) is a brief announcement, usually two to 15 seconds in length that can contain a voice over, placed between a pause in the program and its commercial break, and vice versa. The host, the program announcer or a continuity announcer states the title (if any) of the presentation, the name of the program, and the broadcast or cable network, though not necessarily in that order. On children's television networks, they are sometimes called external eyecatches due to the resemblance of internal eyecatches in anime and there is usually no voice over, but some bumpers do feature one. Bumper music, often a recurring signature or theme music segment, is nearly always featured. Bumpers can vary from simple text to short films.
Since 1976, most network television programs in the United States no longer use commercial bumpers; although some soap operas such as Days of our Lives (which stopped using one in 2010) and The Young and the Restless still feature mid-show bumpers. Commercial bumpers are still a common feature of radio. In radio, they are often used during sports broadcasts to ease the transition from play by play to commercial break and back to live action, as well as notify local stations that they should insert their station identification and/or commercials, many times using obscure musical selections of the board operator's choosing. One notable example of commercial bumpers still in use can be found on Cartoon Network's late night programming block, Adult Swim, whose extensive usage of bumpers has even spawned its own website. Another example of commercial bumpers in radio was their use in syndicated programming; for instance, the radio countdown programs American Top 40 and American Country Countdown feature a series of pre-recorded jingles and other outcues to transition to and from commercial breaks.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, in accordance with then-current regulations set by the Federal Communications Commission that required a distinction between programs and commercials, most children's programming bumpers would include the phrase "We'll be [right] back after these messages," except for the bump before the final commercial break, which would usually say, "And now, these messages." The FCC significantly relaxed these rules in 1984.
Break-bumpers can either be animated or static, and rarely appear for more than two seconds. They are sometimes branded to advertise a special programme or event that will be broadcast on that channel, such as sporting events.
In Japan, an eyecatch (アイキャッチ aikyatchi?) or internal eyecatch is a scene or illustration used to begin and end a commercial break in a television program, especially in anime and tokusatsu shows. The term is used, in Japan, to refer to all kinds of bumpers.
Unlike in American programs, in which bumpers are typically supplied by the network (when they have them at all), eyecatches are almost always produced by the production company and considered a part of the program itself, rather than (or also serving as) a segue into a commercial break. They are typically two to six seconds in length. Eyecatches for children's programs are often longer and more elaborate, while eyecatches for programming intended for adults may consist of nothing more than the program's logo against a black background.[original research?]
In the 1990s, commercial bumpers were used by terrestrial television networks. Similar to those in the United Kingdom, it is a short appearance of a logo or a slide to remind the viewers of the programme being aired, which appears before or after breaks. The logo is usually that of the television channel or station being watched and/or of the programme's title. However, as the years passed on until the late 2000s, this changed to feature a message that the programme will return after the break ends, which is now more commonly seen on RTM's TV1 and TV2 and Media Prima's NTV7, 8TV and TV9. TV3 also uses this for sponsored programmes, but as of 2013, it also uses them for non-sponsored programs, such as children's programmes. The 1990s bumper style, however, is sometimes used sparingly.
Since 2003, nearly all of Astro's satellite television channels feature break bumpers that are placed before and after breaks. These bumpers consist of the logo of the aforementioned channels, as well as a slide promoting the current programme being broadcast and the next programme scheduled to air. Bumpers based on the subscription information sequence seen at the end of Astro Box Office promotional trailers from 2003 to 2006, appear in-between commercials and immediately before the program break ends, but not at the beginning of the block of replaced commercials.
In other countries
In Argentina, since around September 2010, it is compulsory for almost all broadcasters to use a commercial bumper, using the words "Espacio publicitario" (Commercial break) to separate the rest of the programme from the advertisements.
In Poland, television networks usually separate the rest of the programming with the word "Reklama" ("Commercial").
Bumpers on children's television
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Bumpers or external eyecatches on children's television networks, and sometimes other networks are similar to the internal eyecatches used in Japanese anime, with the difference being that the bumpers are supplied by the network. These usually appear only at the end of commercial breaks, but sometimes leading into the start of the break as well. Their primary purpose is to alert children that the commercial break has ended. Depending on the network, the bumper may or may not feature a voice over.
Often, these eyecatches have a secondary purpose: marketing. Canadian network YTV, for example, uses them to help children learn to identify the network and thus increase brand awareness. Most children's television networks run these bumpers because of this reason. From the mid-1980s to the early 1990s periods, Nickelodeon in conjunction with branding firm Fred/Alan, Inc. created 225 bumpers, some featuring catchy doo-wop jingles recorded by a cappella group The Jive Five.
- Singer, Jerome L. Handbook of Children and the Media (Sage, 2002). 385-386. ISBN 978-0-7619-1955-1.
- An example of Children's TV Network bumpers (old bumpers from YTV)
- Another example of Children's TV Network bumpers (old bumpers from Cartoon Network)