Sign-on and sign-off

  (Redirected from Sign-on)

A sign-on (or start-up in Commonwealth countries) is the beginning of operations for a radio or television station, generally at the start of each day. It is the opposite of a sign-off (or closedown in Commonwealth countries), which is the sequence of operations involved when a radio or television station shuts down its transmitters and goes off the air for a predetermined period; generally, this occurs during the overnight hours although a broadcaster's digital specialty or sub-channels may start up and closedown at significantly different times as its main channels.

The closing announcement of ARD as heard in 1993 (in German).
The sign-off message broadcast by DWWX-TV (ABS-CBN Manila) before stopping all broadcasts at 7:52 pm (PST) in compliance with the NTC order because of the expiration of its franchise on May 5, 2020.

Like other television programming, sign-on and sign-off sequences can be initiated by a broadcast automation system, and automatic transmission systems can turn the carrier signal and transmitter on/off by remote control.

Sign-on and sign-off sequences have become less common due to the increasing prevalence of 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week broadcasting. However, some national broadcasters continue the practice; particularly those in countries with limited broadcast coverage. Stations may also sometimes close for transmitter maintenance, or to allow another station to broadcast on the same channel space.[1]


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. It is common for sign-ons to be followed by a network's early morning newscast, or their morning or breakfast show.

Some broadcasters that have ceased signing on and signing off in favour of 24-hour broadcasting may perform a sign-on sequence between at a certain time in the morning (usually between 4:00 and 7:00 a.m.) as a formality to signify the start of its operating day (in the United States, the broadcast logging day begins at 6:00 a.m. local time).[citation needed]

Sign-on/start-up sequenceEdit

The sign-on sequence may include some or all of the following stages, but not necessarily in this order:

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.[citation needed]


Sign-offs, like sign-ons, 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-on sequence at the start of the day.

Many stations, while no longer conducting a sign-off and being off air for a period of time each day, instead run low–cost programming during those times of low viewer numbers. This may include infomercials, movies, television show reruns, simple weather forecasts, low cost news or infotainment programming from other suppliers, simulcasts of sister services, or feeds of local cable TV companies' programming via a fiber optic line to the cable headend. Other broadcasters that are part of a radio or television network may run an unedited feed of the network's overnight programming from a central location, without local advertising. During what are otherwise closedown hours, some channels may also simulcast their teletext pages or full page headlines with music or feeds from sister radio stations playing in the background. Some stations, after doing a sign-off, nonetheless continue to transmit throughout the off-air period on cable/satellite; this transmission may involve a test pattern, static image, teletext pages or full-page headlines which was accompanied by music or a local weather radio service.

Sign-off/closedown sequenceEdit

The sign-off sequence may include some or all of the following stages, but not necessarily in this order:

  • An announcement informing viewers that the station is about to go off-air: it may also include a message of thanks for the viewer’s patronage, along with an announcement of the time when the station is scheduled to sign on again.
  • A station jingle or slogan may be played, accompanied on television with video clips featuring station programming or personalities. A series of program trailers may also be played.
  • A prayer, hymn, or other religious acknowledgement, particularly in countries with a state religion or theocracies, and on religious broadcasters. Other channels may opt for a pre-taped sermonette or something similar.
  • A short weather forecast and newscast:[2] some channels in the United Kingdom also used to include a public information film.
  • A clock ident, which can be silent, play music or feature an announcer.
  • A program guide for the following day's programs.
  • Ownership information about the station and their parent company, as well as their contact information.[2]
  • A 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.
  • The viewer may be encouraged to view or listen to alternative services during the station's downtime; these are usually sister or affiliate stations.
  • A statement of commitment to quality, usually in the form of a recognized standard: in the Philippines, it is usually the Broadcast Code of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (Association of Broadcasters of the Philippines), while in the United States, it was (until 1976) was the Television Code of the National Association of Broadcasters.
  • A television station may show a video and photo montage set to the national anthem or other patriotic piece of music. The accompanying television video may include images of the national flag, head of states, national heroes, national military, national symbols, and other nationalistic imagery (especially on state-owned broadcasters), or simply the station ident.[2]
  • The station may display some type of novelty item, such as an animated character, particular to that station or its locale.
  • Stations in Germany would use a slide with the station logo and the word Sendeschluss (in Germany and Austria also alternatively spelt Sendeschluß, meaning “shutdown”), shown prior to the test card (as opposed to before the signal being cut) to tell the viewer to switch off their sets. This practice ceased around 1994–96.[3]
  • Viewers may be reminded to turn off their television sets just prior to the transmitter being switched off. This is still in regular practice in some places like Russia and some areas of Japan[citation needed]. Sometimes, a loud tone may be played on the audio to encourage sleeping viewers to turn their television sets off.
  • Finally, stations may show a test card,[2] station logo, or a black signal, usually with a monotone sound or a relay of a radio station: some stations, such as BBC Two, may show a sequence of teletext pages, while others may use a promotional video or a series of infomercials. Other stations may simply cut off the signal, usually by sending a series of touch tones to turn off remote transmitters, which resulted in static on an analog television signal.

Some countries have a legal protocol for signing-off: in the United States, the minimum requirement is the station's callsign, followed by its designated city of license.[4] Many stations to include other protocols, such as the national anthem or transmitter information, as a custom, or as a service to the public.

In the United Kingdom, before the introduction of 24-hour television, there was no known legal protocol for a sign-off: BBC One and many ITV regions customarily included the country’s national anthem, while BBC Two, Granada, and Channel 4 signed-off with a continuity announcement, clock and ident.

Religious acknowledgements during sign-on and sign-offEdit

Country Religious acknowledgement
  Algeria Quran reading[5]
  Armenia Christian blessing[6]
  Austria Bible reading, responsorial psalm or Christian prayer
  Bangladesh Quran reading
  Bolivia Christian sermonette or prayer[7]
  Brazil Christian programme[8]
  Brunei Quran reading[9]
  Canada Christian sermonette[10]
  Egypt Quran reading[11]
  Germany Bible reading, responsorial psalm or Christian prayer[12]
  Greece Christian prayer[13]
  Iran Quran reading[14]
  Ireland Christian prayer[15]
  Israel Psuko Shel Yom
  Jordan Quran reading[16]
  Libya Quran reading[17]
  Malaysia Quran reading[18]
  Morocco Quran reading[19]
  Myanmar Buddhist quote[20]
  Nepal Hindu song[21]
  Niger Quran reading[22]
  Pakistan Quran reading[23]
  Peru Christian prayer[24]
  Philippines Christian prayer[25]
  Saudi Arabia Quran reading[26]
  Syria Quran reading[27]
  Thailand Buddhist quote, inspirational message[28]
  Trinidad and Tobago Christian prayer[29]
  United Kingdom Christian sermonette[30]
  United States Christian prayer, sermonette or inspirational message[31][32][33]
  Western Sahara Quran reading[34]
  Yemen Quran reading[35]

Special sign-on/off casesEdit


In a number of countries closedowns formerly took place during the daytime as well as overnight. In the United Kingdom this was initially due to government-imposed restrictions on daytime broadcasting hours, and later, due to budgetary constraints. The eventual relaxation of these rules meant that afternoon closedowns ceased permanently on the ITV network in October 1972, but the BBC maintained the practice until Friday 24 October 1986, before commencing a full daytime service on the following Monday. Afternoon closedowns continued in South Korea until December 2005. Hong Kong's broadcasting networks (particularly the English-speaking channels) also practiced this until mid-2008. In these cases, the station's transmitters later did not actually shut-down for the afternoon break; either a test-card was played or a static schedule was posted telling viewers of the programming line-up once broadcasting resumes.



During religious holidays or occasions, Doordarshan and Akashvani will broadcast a prayer of any religion through the day, a week or a month (e.g. During Ramadan, a reading from the Quran, a Muslim quote, or a call for Azan and Fajr prayer will be broadcast. During Lent, a Christian prayer, a hymn or a psalm will be broadcast).


During Ramadan, Malaysian public broadcaster RTM operated TV1 24 hours a day instead of signing off. In 2012, TV1 broadcast 24 hours a day during the London Olympics in 2012, due to the time difference.[36] This would become permanent in August 2012, to coincide with their sister channel, TV2 by showing reruns from the broadcaster's archive library and movies on early mornings before start-up.


During the Holy Week in the Philippines, terrestrial television and radio stations continue their regular broadcast schedules (including Lenten drama specials from Eat Bulaga! and It's Showtime) from Palm Sunday until Holy Wednesday. From the midnight of Holy Thursday until the early hours of Easter Sunday (before 4 AM PST on most commercial broadcasters), most non-religious television and radio networks either remain off-the-air due to using the timeframe for annual maintenance of their broadcast equipments or truncate their broadcasting hours and feature special programming such as Lenten drama specials, religious-themed programming and news coverage of various services and rites. Catholic Media Network member stations also follow the latter pattern, broadcasting Easter Triduum services and other similar programming.[37]

Campus radio stations' operations during this time are left to the discretion of their respective schools, colleges, or universities by either closing down on the afternoon of Holy Wednesday or remaining off-air for the entire Holy Week.

On cable and satellite, with the exception of specialty channels that broadcast horse racing, cockfighting, and the like that sign-off and remain dormant during this period, most international networks distributed in the Philippines continue to broadcast their 24/7 regular programming service week-long, while other Philippine-exclusive channels continue with specially-arranged schedules from Holy Thursday to Black Saturday or sometimes regular programming.

Notable historical exceptionsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ An example of this is the United Kingdom’s BBC Four/CBeebies and the Czech Republic's ČT art/ČT Déčko.
  2. ^ a b c d James, Brandon (22 March 2019). "Watch These Old West Michigan Television Sign-offs Before You Go To Bed". WBCK. Battle Creek: Townsquare Media. Archived from the original on 16 March 2021. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  3. ^ "Chronik der ARD | Das Erste rund um die Uhr". Retrieved 2020-07-04.
  4. ^ "47 CFR 73.1201 (a)(2)" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved 2016-07-23.
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  21. ^ Marschall, Sabine (3 February 2017). Tourism and Memories of Home: Migrants, Displaced People, Exiles and Diasporic Communities. ISBN 9781845416058.
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External linksEdit

  • - J. Alan Wall's website devoted to sign-offs and sign-ons of United States television stations
  • TV-Ark