|Notability of media topics in a nutshell:|
This page is not one of Wikipedia's notability guidelines; however, it reflects consensus for notability of media topics reached through discussions and reinforced by established practice, and informs decisions on whether an article on a topic should be written, merged, deleted or further developed.
The following is a tool to help determine whether a media outlet is a valid subject for a Wikipedia article. The scope of this page covers all forms of "traditional media"—including newspapers, magazines, radio, and television. Notability of websites is determined by referring to the guideline at Wikipedia:Notability (web).
Simply stated, a media outlet is an organization formed to make some form of communication with a wider audience. This is often in the form of news and/or entertainment and may or may not be done for a profit.
What is notability?
Within Wikipedia, notability is an inclusion criterion based on the encyclopedic suitability of an article topic. The topic of an article should be notable, or "worthy of notice". This concept is distinct from "fame", "importance", or "popularity", although these may positively correlate with notability.
Notable means "worthy of being noted" or "attracting notice." It is not synonymous with "fame" or "importance." Please consider notable and demonstrable effects on culture, society, entertainment, athletics, economies, history, literature, science, or education. Large outlets are likely to have more readily available verifiable information from reliable sources that provide evidence of notability; however, smaller ones can be notable, just as individuals can be notable, and arbitrary standards should not be used to create a bias favoring larger organizations, nor should they be used to provide blanket permissions for all articles about a certain subject.
A media outlet is presumed notable if it has been the subject of coverage in secondary sources. Such sources must be reliable, and independent of the subject. The depth of coverage of the subject by the source must be considered. If the depth of coverage is not substantial, then multiple independent sources should be cited to establish notability. Trivial or incidental coverage of a subject by secondary sources is not sufficient to establish notability. Once notability is established, primary sources may be used to add content. Ultimately, and most importantly, all content must be verifiable.
The "secondary sources" in the criterion include reliable published works in all forms, such as (for example) newspaper articles, books, television documentaries, and published reports by consumer watchdog organizations except for the following:
- Press releases; autobiographies; advertising for the outlet; and other works where the outlet talks about itself—whether published by the company itself, or re-printed by other people. Self-published material or published at the direction of the subject of the article would be a primary source and falls under a different policy.
- Works carrying merely trivial coverage; such as (for examples) the publications of telephone numbers, addresses, and directions in business directories, short listings in a national database.
Note that in certain countries where radio and television stations have call signs, Wikipedia titles our articles with the call sign rather than the on-air brand name. When searching for sources to improve the article, however, you will likely have to search on both names.
In the case of radio and television stations, the licensing documents from the appropriate regulatory agency (the FCC in the United States, the CRTC in Canada, OFCOM in the United Kingdom, etc.) are acceptable references for some facts—they may in fact be the only possible source for some details, such as the station's transmitter power. However, these sources do not constitute a permanent pass of this notability standard by themselves. Radio or television stations referenced only to the licensing documents themselves are granted a temporary presumption of notability pending the addition of better sources, but are not granted a permanent exemption from ever having to cite improved sourcing—even if the licensing documents are cited in the article, it may still be deleted in the future if real media sources simply cannot be found.
Other methods of presuming notability for media related topics are listed below.
Why separate criteria
Many of the reliable sources used on Wikipedia come from the media, especially about current topics. However, the media does not often report on itself. It is not often that one media outlet will give neutral attention to another, as this could be seen as "advertising for the competition." Also, when searching for sources on media outlets, the results are often pages produced by the outlet, making it difficult to find significant coverage in multiple sources.
As media outlets are themselves a significant proportion of our sources for other content, however, it serves an important purpose for Wikipedia to provide neutral and verifiable information about those sources so that readers are able to evaluate their reliability and scope. Accordingly, the notability standards for media organizations and content are designed to be as inclusive, not restrictive, as possible within the bounds of verifiability in reliable sources.
Nothing in this document, however, is to be understood as extending media topics an exemption from having to cite any sourcing at all. The basic claim of notability must be verifiable in at least one reliable source which is independent of the topic itself before the presumption of notability is granted. A media topic's own self-published content about itself is not sufficient sourcing to get the presumption of notability; for instance, a television series is not presumed notable under this document's standards for the notability of a television series just because it has a fan interaction page on Facebook or a listing on IMDb, and a radio or television station is not presumed notable just because it has a website. People have sometimes created fake web content for the purposes of "verifying" a hoax topic into Wikipedia, including fake radio and television stations, so notability remains dependent on independent verification in unaffiliated sources.
The following criteria have been developed by a consensus of Wikipedians and are considered standards to use when considering the notability of media related topics. Failure to meet these criteria is not conclusive proof that a topic should not be included; conversely, meeting one or more does not guarantee that a topic should be included.
Newspapers, magazines and journals
- have produced award winning work
- have served some sort of historic purpose or have a significant history
- are considered by reliable sources to be authoritative in their subject area
- are frequently cited by other reliable sources
- are significant publications in ethnic and other non-trivial niche markets
Publications that primarily carry advertising, and only have trivial content, may have relevant details merged to an article on their publisher or an equivalent sister newspaper (if notable).
If a journal meets any one of the following conditions, as substantiated through independent reliable sources, it probably qualifies for a stand-alone article. If a journal meets none of these conditions, it may still qualify for a stand-alone article, if it meets the conditions of WP:Notability or other notability criteria. The merits of an article on the journal will depend largely on the extent to which the material is verifiable through third-party sources.
- The journal is considered by reliable sources to be influential in its subject area.
- The journal is frequently cited by other reliable sources.
- The journal is historically important in its subject area.
It is possible for a journal to probably qualify for a stand-alone article according to this standard and yet not actually be an appropriate topic for coverage in Wikipedia because of a lack of reliable, independent sources on the subject.
Notability may be presumed for a radio and television broadcast station if it verifiably meets through reliable sources, one or more of a variety of factors, such as importance to and history in the station's market, or originating some of its own programming. A brief explanation of the broadcast market may be needed in the guideline for editors to make informed decisions.
- Television stations – The vast majority of over-the-air television stations serve a large regional market, often covering millions of households. The regulatory authorities, such as the FCC in the United States, grant each station a monopoly on a substantial portion of radio spectrum to carry their programming, and most metro areas only have a dozen or so television channels. In turn, the TV stations must devote certain hours to public affairs and educational programming, and grant equal time to political candidates. Because of the public interest served, most television stations that produce original content should be presumed notable for Wikipedia purposes.
- Radio stations – There are considerably more radio stations in existence than television stations, some with large audiences and some with small. However, radio stations tend to have long histories and while the owners and formats change, the stations generally stay put. Notability can be established by either a large audience, established broadcast history, or being the originator of some programming. Local affiliates of notable networks are themselves presumed notable unless they are translator stations (see below). For instance, even a 10-watt station belonging to a high school may be notable, if it's in a fight to keep the grandfathered Class D license with which it's been broadcasting for thirty years. On the other hand, licensed Travelers' Information Stations are generally not presumed notable, but might redirect to an article about the highway, park or tourist facility they cover, or about the company that operates them if that company meets WP:CORP. Editors might consider creating a table listing the radio stations in an area which might be redirected to rather than creating dozens of stub articles.
- Translator stations – There do exist radio and television transmitters that do little more than rebroadcast another signal. Note these are not "network affiliates", but simply facilities that repeat another station. This is often done, for instance, to extend coverage in rural areas. In general this sort of station does not merit its own article on Wikipedia, but rather a redirect to the originating station. The term "translator" can have different meanings in different countries; for the purposes of this page, a translator is deemed to be a station that is fully dedicated to rebroadcasting the content of another station, and produces no local programming. Note that a station which operates primarily as a translator, but does originate even a small amount of programming independently of its parent service, is treated as an originating station rather than a rebroadcaster for the purposes of this page — however, a station whose programming distinction from its parent service consists only of some separate locally-targeted advertising is treated as a rebroadcaster. As well, a station which was formerly an originating station in its own right, but which now exists only as a rebroadcaster of another service, is treated as an originating station because of its history.
- A small exception for this in the United States includes translators which serve as an analog simulcast of a subchannel of an HD Radio station which is intended to serve the inner ring of a large market (an example of this is Atlanta's W233BF, which utilizes WSTR-HD3 as a signal source for their Atlanta hip hop-centric format). However, careful judgement must be used in these cases, as these formats may only last for a limited time (Christmas music simulcasts, for instance, would be considered unnotable), and translators are at the whim of being forced to sign off or relocate whenever a full-power station challenges their ability to broadcast, or may end their arrangement with the parent HD Radio station, which would insert a rebroadcast of another of their stations, or as with Audacy or iHeartMedia, place a generic automated station on that signal.
- "Proposed" stations – Wikipedia formerly permitted an article about a new radio or television station to be started as soon as its license approval or "construction permit" was granted, without regard to whether the station had actually launched yet. However, a significant number of such stations have, for economic or technical reasons, ended up never launching at all and having their authorizations expire, have been misrepresented in the article as an originating station while actually going to air as a rebroadcaster of another station instead, or have abused the limits of a construction permit to either use that signal solely as a "callsign warehouse" and/or hold the license in a long-term silent state to deny another broadcaster the ability to use it. Accordingly, a proposed but not yet launched station is not permitted an article anymore until a confirmed launch date is properly verifiable in reliable source coverage.
- Subcarriers – Services carried over the same bandwidth as the broadcast signal, such as closed-caption news tickers, SAP audio programs, or digital radio and television subchannels, generally do not merit separate articles and should be covered in the station's main article. The service itself, such as This TV or Antenna TV, generally is presumed notable. Also, a TV station that simulcasts its signal on one channel in analog and one channel in digital should be covered by a single article. Generally in practice, this includes subchannels which carry only The CW Plus schedule with limited local programming and newscasts.
- Sister stations – It's up to the editors' judgement or a community consensus whether "sister" radio and TV stations under the same branding should be merged to single articles.
- Unlicensed stations – Stations that do not require a license to operate, such as Part 15 stations in the United States, VF stations in Canada, closed-circuit services, pirate broadcasters or "carrier current" stations limited to the boundaries of a college campus, as well as internet radio stations, are not presumed notable just for existing, but may have notability conferred on them by meeting WP:CORP standards. Where verifiable, an unlicensed station may be mentioned in the appropriate contexts (such as an article about its parent organization or school, if one exists or can be created), but is not eligible for its own standalone article unless it can be sourced over WP:GNG via reliable source coverage. (The fact that VF stations in Canada formerly had to have conventional CRTC licenses, in addition, does not get them past this criterion; as the regulations have been changed and such stations are now exempt from licensing, it is now impossible to properly verify whether such a station remains in operation.)
- Temporary stations – In many countries, a radio station can be granted a temporary broadcasting license to operate as a short-term "special event" station, such as a Restricted Service License in the United Kingdom or a special temporary authority license in the United States. Such a station will usually exist only for a few weeks (or maybe a few months at most), but must then shut down unless granted a new short-term or long-term license. Stations of this type are not presumed notable, unless they can be sourced well enough to pass WP:GNG, but may be mentioned in an article on the event itself if one exists or can be created.
- Cable television – Generally, national or regional cable channels are presumed notable. Public access cable stations are not presumed notable unless they serve a major city or a large regional area. For example, a statewide public access channel, or a channel for all of New York City could be presumed notable. A "governmental access" feed that runs a text generator of community events plus city council meetings for a population of 50,000 is not generally presumed notable, but can be conferred notability by meeting the standards set forth in WP:CORP.
- Cable and satellite radio – Generally, individual "channels" carried by cable or subscription satellite radio are not presumed notable, as they can be added and dropped at will by the service provider. However, the service as a whole is most likely notable, and individual channels can be notable if they meet the primary criterion of having received independent media coverage.
Student media, such as over-the-air college radio stations and student newspapers, are not presumed non-notable just because they primarily serve a university or college student population, but are judged by the same inclusion standards as any other media outlet. A student newspaper or radio station which is deemed non-notable should always be redirected to the college or university that it serves.
Generally, an individual radio or television program is likely to be notable if it airs on a network of radio or television stations (either national or regional in scope), or on a cable television channel with a broad regional or national audience. It is far less likely to be notable if it airs in only one local media market.
In either case, however, the presence or absence of reliable sources is more definitive than the geographic range of the program's audience alone. For instance, a purely local talk radio program might be notable enough for inclusion if it played a solidly sourceable role in exposing a major political scandal, and a national television program might not be notable if it was cancelled too quickly to have garnered any media coverage.
Television pilots that have not been picked up to series are not normally eligible for Wikipedia articles—in most cases, a television series is not eligible for an article until its scheduling as an ongoing series has been formally confirmed by a television network or streaming provider (for instance, it has been announced at an entity's upfront presentation as being scheduled and advanced to series, a promotional trailer has been released, and/or it has a scheduled premiere date). A mere announcement that a pilot is in development may be noted in the Wikipedia articles about its creators, writers or confirmed cast members, but absent significant evidence that the pilot has notability for reasons beyond simple confirmation of its existence, the announcement itself is not sufficient basis for a standalone article about the pilot. An unaired pilot, such as Aquaman or Marvel's Most Wanted, can qualify for an article should there be significant reliable sources covering the development and other production aspects of the pilot independent of its own marketing materials.
Care must also be taken with projects that have been announced to series and started filming; 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic saw the unexpected start of the "un-renewal" concept, where a series confirmed to launch or being renewed is instead cancelled by the network or streamer for economic reasons (such was the case for On Becoming a God in Central Florida, which was cancelled after being officially renewed for its second season, or Flack, whose second season American launch on Pop was scuttled days before despite filming being completely finished, leaving it to wait to launch several months later on Prime Video).
A television or radio station's article should not contain a comprehensive listing of the station's entire broadcast schedule. Basic schedule information for major programming blocks, such as the core prime time schedule of a national television network, may be provided in appropriate articles—but as Wikipedia is not an electronic program guide, this schedule should not be updated every week with specials or temporary programming changes. Content that describes a station's programming in greater depth is permitted, as long as it is properly sourced and consists of more than just a list of the hosts' names. Syndicated programs on an individual station's schedule should be limited to around five to six programs with a wide following (for instance, a mention of a television station carrying Judge Judy or Jeopardy!, or for radio, a mention of the station carrying the "standard" Premiere Radio Networks schedule of conservative talk programming is appropriate, while generally detailed information about a low-profile program such as Made in Hollywood or other non-prime programming on the station is best avoided).
Lists of a particular type of media outlet (e.g. "List of radio stations in X", "List of newspapers in Y") should exist only at the country or first-order divisional (state, province, etc.) level. Individual cities or extended media markets are permitted "Media in (City)" lists which have subsections for radio, television and print media in that particular city, but should not have separate lists for each individual type of media.
For example, a separate "List of radio stations in Louisville, Kentucky" should not be created, but Media in Louisville, Kentucky, combining local radio, television and newspaper lists into a single article, is valid.
The channel lineup of a national service, such as a direct broadcast satellite company which offers the same channel lineup in all areas it serves, may be valid content. However, do not create articles listing an individual cable company's channel lineup in a local market.
Subcategories by geographical division may be created where appropriate (e.g. Category:Radio stations in Oregon, Category:Television stations in Ontario). Where such categories are used, create a comprehensive set for all appropriate divisions, regardless of the number of stations in any individual state or province, and then use the state/province categories instead of the country category. Such categories may also be further subdivided by city or market where numbers warrant; however, at the city level it is not mandatory to diffuse all stations out of the state/province category. That is, Category:Radio stations in Oregon may include subcategories for major radio markets, but does not require subcategories for small towns which only have one local radio station.
Subcategories by genre, network or ownership group may also be created (e.g. Category:College radio stations in the United States, Category:CTV Television Network stations). However, do not combine geographical and non-geographical subcategories — for instance, do not create third-level subcategories for "College radio stations in Oregon" or "CTV network stations in Ontario".
Media outlets that are not notable may still have some information about them included, if properly verifiable, in related articles such as their parent company or organization or in lists based on location, service or format. The list can include all verifiable information about each outlet. If/when an outlet becomes notable enough for its own article, its entry in the list should be reduced to only the most basic information, with a link to the article.
- Self-promotion and product placement are not the routes to having an encyclopaedia article. The published works must be someone else writing about the outlet. (See Wikipedia:Autobiography for the verifiability and neutrality problems that affect material where the subject of the article itself is the source of the material.) A primary test of notability is whether people independent of the subject itself have actually considered the outlet notable enough that they have written and published non-trivial works that focus upon it.