The NAdB Frequently Asked Questions

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A: No. Internet Radio Uniform Callsign (IRUC) is simply a standardized cataloging system for Internet Radio stations that is used by various online directories in order to simplify station searches and indexes.

Similarly, callsigns issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to AM, FM, TV, Amateur and other facilities aren't licenses, either. The station's FCC license is its authorization to broadcast; the callsign is how that station is cataloged and classified.

A: Absolutely. The key thing to consider, however, is your listener and your potential audience. On a standalone digital radio or a digital radio-enabled smartphone, it is much easier for your listener to key in four digits (for example, KEZY) rather than twenty-plus digits (as in

A: Although it is a good idea to do so in order to protect your terrestrial station's branding, especially when it operates with legacy or historical call letters, it is not a requirement to register with IRUC.

(Note that unless your call letters are registered as a trademark, IRUC is not legally required to withhold them from another applicant.)

In addition, if your station has secondary streams that are not broadcast over the air, you should obtain IRUCs to identify them.

In a recent blog post on the subject ("Protect the Brand - Service Mark The Call Letters" by noted broadcast industry attorney David Oxenford), it was noted that:

Since 1983, the FCC has left disputes about the use of confusingly similar call letters to local courts. Thus, if a competitor picks a set of call letters that could confuse the public about the relationship of their station to yours, you may need to sue to stop that use. And now, when stations often keep alive formats that have been dropped by moving the formats onto Internet Radio Stations or to HD Radio subchannels, the call sign may well live on even after it has been dropped from a primary on-air station. Thus, it needs protections other than those provided by the FCC.

A: Each country is assigned one (or multiple) prefixes to uniquely identify Internet Radio or digital-only broadcasting stations operating within its territory. The prefix generally begins with one or two letters to identify the country, which may be followed by one or two numerals which identify the radio district within the country.

For example, the main prefix for Great Britain is "G", while the main prefix for New York, New Jersey and most other locations east of the Mississippi River in the United States is "W."

The station operator may choose the two or three letters that follow the standardized prefix, or may select to have them assigned sequentially by IRUC. To denote that the station broadcasts on the Internet (or via other wireless systems), the "-DB" suffix follows the assigned call letters. For example, a station operator in New York (USA) may request to have the callsign WNY-DB or WNYC-DB assigned. "Two-digit callsigns," such as WN-DB, are not permitted.

A: You should not begin using your callsign until you receive confirmation from the National Association of Digital Broadcasters (USA) or the IRUC Administration Centre (outside the USA), even if you received a message confirming successful payment of fees.

A: Your IRUC represents the International Radio District in which the programming actually originates. For example, if your station's main studio is in Los Angeles (USA) but your server is located in Tokyo (JP), you should specify Los Angeles as the station's location.

A: While you are not legally required to identify your station by its IRUC at any specific time, it is suggested that you announce your callsign at the top of each hour, or at the closest natural break in programming (generally within two to three minutes before or after the hour).

Also, if your station only operates during certain hours (for example, from 6 AM until Midnight), it is suggested that you also announce your callsign at both sign-on and sign-off.

A: When identifying your station, you should announce your callsign and your base location (the community or communities noted on your IRUC documents). For example, "This is G9UK Digital Radio, London."

You may, however, precede or follow your official IRUC station identification with any slogan, positioner or imaging (including jingles). For example, "Playing the greatest music of today and yesterday, this is G9UK Digital Radio, London, the United Kingdom's most popular webradio station."

A: No. Although some HD Radio stations identify their channel by adding "Dash 2" (as in "WXXX-FM HD Dash 2"), the hyphen (or "dash") is usually silent. Where a television station might identify itself as "WABC-TV, New York" (without saying "dash"), you may also simply say "On the Internet, this is WXXX-DB" (without saying "dash").

A: "DB" designates "Digital Broadcast." The term "Digital Broadcast" refers to any streaming audio service, whether it is received by a computer, smartphone, wireless radio/receiver, Internet-enabled portable device, or similar appliances.

A: No. Depending upon your location, you may still be responsible for paying royalties for including recorded music in your programming.

For more information in the United States, please contact SoundExchange, Inc.

In the United Kingdom, please contact Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL).

In India, please contact Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL-India).

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