|This article does not cite any references or sources. (May 2011)|
A sign-on (or startup) is the beginning of operations for a radio or television station, generally at the start of each day. It is the opposite to a sign-off (or closedown) which generally takes place at the end of the day.
Sign-ons, like sign-offs, vary from country to country, from station to station, and from time to time, however most follow a similar general pattern. Many stations follow the reverse process to their sign-off sequence at the close of the day. It is common for sign-ons to be followed by a network's early morning newscast, or their morning or breakfast show.
While both sign-ons and sign-offs have become less common with the increasing prevalence of twenty-four hour a day, seven day a week broadcasting, they are still conducted by a number of stations around the world. For broadcasters that do still close for a period each day, this station close is most often during the early hours of the morning, with the daily sign-on typically occurring between 5:00 am and 7:00 am. However, in some countries with more limited broadcast coverage, such as North Korea, sign-on may be as late as 5:00 pm. A particular type of AM radio station known as daytimers usually only operate during daytime hours, and will therefore run a sign-on sequence each day.
The sign-on sequence may include some or all of the following stages, but not necessarily in this order:
- For television stations or radio stations that cut-off their signal during off-broadcast hours, a test pattern and/or 1000 Hz tone may be broadcast fifteen to twenty minutes before the actual sign-on.
- A signal to turn on remote transmitters may be played—this is usually a series of touch tones.
- Technical information provided, such as the call sign, transmitter power, translators used, transmitter locations, list of engineers (in the Philippines), and studio/transmitter links (STL).
- On television stations, a video and/or photo montage set to the national anthem or another patriotic piece of music may be played; on radio stations this would just consist of the music, usually the national anthem. The accompanying television video usually involves images of the national flag, head of state, military, national symbols, or other nationalistic imagery, particularly on state owned broadcasters.
- Ownership information about the station, and a list of related organizations.
- A "good morning" greeting to viewers or listeners.
- Contact information, such as street and mailing addresses, telephone number, email, and website details.
- A prayer or other religious acknowledgement, particularly in countries with a state religion, in theocracies, and on religious broadcasters. For example sign-ons in Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Vietnam typically include a quote from Gautama Buddha, and those in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia generally include an Islamic reading from the Quran, a Muslim quote, or a call for Azan and Fajr prayer, those in the Philippines, Russia, Canada and the United States include a Christian prayer, psalm or hymn of some type and stations in India and China have a prayer of any religion depending on the day.
- A program guide for the upcoming programs, or the day's programs.
- A disclaimer that station programming is taped, aired live, or originates from a television or radio network.
- Another disclaimer that programs are for personal use only (sometimes with information on copyright restrictions), and a statement that businesses cannot profit from showing them by applying a cover charge for viewing.
- A statement of commitment to quality; this may be in the form of a recognized standard, such as the United States National Association of Broadcasters' "Seal of Good Practice".
- A station identification, including some or all of the television channel, AM or FM frequency, call sign, branding, and a clock ident.
- Generally a station jingle or slogan will be played, accompanied on television with video clips featuring station programming or personalities.
While most of these sign-on steps are done as a service to the public, or for advertising reasons, some of them may be required by the government of the country.