Radio regulator Ofcom is introducing a compulsory Top-of-Hour Legal ID for UK commercial and community radio stations within the next three months, to enable listeners to more easily identify what they are listening to.
The news, which is expected to be released by Ofcom later this morning, was the topic of discussion at the latest Radio Licencing Committee meeting on March 23rd.
The new rule will bring the UK in line with the Federal Communications Commission in America which requires broadcast stations to identify themselves with their Call Letters and area of transmission.
Every station will be required by law to verbally identify themselves each hour. Station name, frequency, and owner will need to air hourly, as close to the hour as feasible at a natural break in programme offerings. Radio stations with more than one frequency or owner will be allowed to rotate this information. This is in addition to any regular mentioned each station normally carries out in an average hour.
Some community and student radio stations will be expected to identify themselves every half hour. Announcements can either be live or pre-recorded.
Station identification is used because of the sheer number of signals available over the air. Not only are there radio and television signals being broadcast, there are also two-way radio signals from police, emergency crews and private companies as well as amateur radio signals. Early radio operators recognised the need for anyone listening to a signal over the air to be able to tune in a specific time and immediately know what station was being heard and where the signal was originating from.
Happy April 1st!