[sahyn-on, -awn]
Sign-on (or startup) is the term used to describe the beginning of operations for a television station. It is the opposite to a sign-off (or closedown).

As with sign-offs, sign-ons vary from country to country, and from station to station.

North America

In the United States and Canada, sign-ons are often the exact reverse of a sign-off. Commercial stations often sign on between 5-6 a.m., while some public stations may not sign on until as late as 7:30 a.m. Television sign-ons are very rare these days as most stations operate 24 hours a day. In these cases, the sign-on sequence is shown between commercials or before a program around the 6 a.m. hour (5 a.m. in the Central and Mountain time zones); for instance, before the start of a network's early morning newscast, or that station's morning news show.

The sign-on sequence often includes the following:

  • In some cases, a signal to turn on any remote transmitters—usually a series of Touch Tones.
  • A video and/or photo montage set to the national anthem or another patriotic piece.
  • A "good morning"-type greeting to viewers.
  • Technical information, such as the call sign, transmitter power, translators used, transmitter locations and STL links.
  • Ownership of the station.
  • Contact information – such as street and mailing addresses, and/or telephone number.
  • List of related organizations.
  • A disclaimer that station programming is taped, aired live, or originates from a television network. Some stations also air another disclaimer that programs are for personal use only (previously only at time of viewing; this has been appended with the spread of VHS and DVR devices), and businesses cannot profit from showing them by applying a cover charge for viewing.
  • A commitment to quality (or perhaps, a slogan). Prior to the early 1980s, this was generally in the form of the National Association of Broadcasters' "Seal of Good Practice".
  • An identification of the station.

The above is often followed by a station jingle, usually played over a montage of local video clips.

For stations that cut off their signal during off-broadcast hours, a test pattern may appear 15-20 minutes before the actual sign-on.

On radio stations owned and operated by the CBC, a short introduction is aired, before it goes into its announcement. On CBC/Radio Canada TV stations, the Coat of arms of Canada is displayed, followed by a video montage accompanied by the national anthem (In the mid 90's, the anthem was played as a cartoon fly by across Canada was happening from a bird's eye view), and a special "broadcast day bumper" video sequence, which includes a legal ID showing callsign, channel number and city of licence. The practice has ended, since the english CBC radio and TV stations went to 24-hour transmission in late 2006. In Saskatchewan, CBC TV Stations went on to be 24-hour transmission since the beginning of Torino 2006 Olympic Games. For the Radio Canada stations however, this sign-on practice still continues.

Examples of United States television sign-on messages

The Philippines

In the Philippines where almost all terrestrial stations don't operate 24 hours a day, the basic elements of a station's sign-on include the playing of the national anthem then technical station information (such as NTC permit number, transmitter power, transmitter location, list of engineers, provincial repeater/sister stations). ABS-CBN Channel 2 starts with the video of the national anthem made by ABS-CBN, an a morning prayer, followed by a message where will they send comments to, then the technical information of the station being read by main voice-over announcer Peter Musngi, then a message saying "Ladies and gentlemen, in a few seconds, we will be on simultaneous satellite broadcast. Please stand by.", followed by a short patriotic message. Then followed by Agot Isidro's Islands Philippines.

ABC-5 usually shows a test card with a time on it and the date on the upper left portion before it formally signs on. NET-25 usually plays music with the test card (the station's logo) in it.

Studio 23 usually makes a different version of a test card. It resembles a TV schedule instead of a Test Pattern.

NBN 4 usually plays the Philippine national anthem After it shows the credits like type of technical information of the station with the Philippine Map showing the stations of the network will go on nationwide.

GMA-7 usually plays the Philippine national anthem before it shows the message like type of technical information of the station, the list of the GMA provincial stations and their station ID.

Q Channel 11 usually plays the Philippine national anthem before it shows the message like type of technical information of the station, the list of the Q provincial affiliate stations, the morning prayer and the station ID.

Major commercial stations like ABS-CBN and GMA go on the air at around 4:00 local time (some ABS-CBN regional stations would show an Philips PM5544 from the ABS-CBN National Feed or a static slide (which actually is a screenshot from an ABS-CBN Regional Network Group station ID) while most other stations go on the air at around 6:00 local time. They usually sign-on at slightly later times during the weekends. Since ABC-5 rebranded as TV5, it only plays the Philippine National Anthem after the through-the-night "All Hot Music" program and before it plays the station ID. TV5 no follows its former sign-on norm. But for TV5's provincial stations that sign-off, it just turns on airing "All Hot Music" from the national feed.

After said its message and technical information of the station, GMA-7 shows the Chinese Holy Rosary before they aired their morning show while ABS-CBN joins DZMM TeleRadyo up to 4:55 AM, followed by Family Guidelines, its "reflections for the day program." Afterwich, Umagang Kay Ganda at 5:00 am.


RTM1, which does not operate 24 hours a day during most of the year, will play music over the test pattern a few minutes before signing-on. A line-up of the day's programmes will also scroll at the bottom of the screen. Sign-ons usually happen between 5:40 and 6:00 local time where a clock will appear for a few seconds. When the second hand hits the top of the minute, the national anthem will play after which a morning muslim prayer is said.


United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the ITV network stations were required to make an authority announcement, and play a piece of music before beginning its daily broadcasts. The music played was often popular with those served by the station. The music had to be registered with the Independent Television Authority/Independent Broadcasting Authority. The practice has ended, since the ITV went to 24 hour transmissions between 1986 and 1988. The BBC signed on by simply cutting straight from the testcard to the first announcement. The practice on BBC 1 has ended, since they went into 24 hour telecasting in 1997.


In Indonesia, where almost all terrestrial stations don't operate 24 hours a day, the basic elements of a station's sign-on features the playing of Indonesia Raya are in the Following Network Stations: antv, Global TV, Indosiar, RCTI, SCTV, TPI, Trans TV, Trans 7, TVRI, and in Indonesian Regional TV Stations. with Daily Program Schedule of Indonesian TV Stations.

External links

  • TV-Ark
  • - J. Alan Wall's site featuring sign-offs and sign-ons of United States television stations
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