UPDATE: Effective on 1 June 2010, all -IR (Internet Radio) station suffixes will be automatically converted to -DB (Digital Broadcast) suffixes. The change to -DB more accurately reflects the wider choice of receiver platforms available to the listening public.
NOTE: Call letters used in this section are examples only, and are not meant to imply that the call letters are available.
Q: Is an IRUC callsign a broadcasting license?
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.
Q: What is the standard format for a Digital Radio Uniform Identifier (DRuID) or Internet Radio Uniform Callsign (IRUC)?
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 standardised 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.
For a listing of international prefixes, please click here.
Q: How long does it take to assign and register an IRUC?
A: Because of the volume of requests for callsigns, the process may take up to five business days. Requests for expedited service may shorten the waiting period, but can still take several business days to complete.
Q: How long is my IRUC registration effective?
A: The minimum callsign
registration period is two years, with discounts offered
for multiple years. Registrations can be
automatically renewed at the original rate each year
unless the station operator chooses to opt out or cancel the
callsign registration. (For example, if you paid a €15,00 fee in
that fee is locked in for the life of the radio station
and will not be raised for any reason.)
You may cancel your registration and be eligible for a refund within two business days of placing your order. Callsign registration and membership may be cancelled by following the instructions here.
Q: I requested my IRUC today and paid the fee. May I start using my IRUC immediately?
A: You should not begin using your callsign until you receive authorisation from IRUC Administration Centre, even if you received a message confirming successful payment of fees.
Q: My station's studio is located in [COUNTRY A], but my streaming server is located in [COUNTRY B]. Which country should I obtain my IRUC in?
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 must specify Los Angeles as the station's location.
Q: Am I required to identify my station by its IRUC at regular intervals?
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.
Q: What is the appropriate format for identifying our station using our IRUC?
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."
Q: Do we have to say the "dash" (hyphen) in our call letters?
A: No. As with terrestrial radio and television stations, 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").
Q: What does the "-DB" suffix on our call letters mean?
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.
Q: Our firm operates one Internet-only radio station, but it streams at three different bitrates. Are we required to obtain separate IRUCs for each stream?
A: No. If all of your streams broadcast the same programming, then you may obtain only a single IRUC. In addition, you are not required to identify each stream by IRUC and the bitrate during broadcasts.
Q: Our station is licensed in the United States by the Federal Communications Commission to broadcast over the air, but streams the same audio feed digitally over the Internet. Do we also need to obtain an IRUC for the stream?
A: No, although it is a good idea to do so in order to protect your terrestrial station's "branding." (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 blogpost 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.
Q: Can't I simply identify my station as ExtremeHipHopRadio.com (for example)?
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, KXXX) rather than twenty-plus digits (as in extremehiphopradio.com).
In addition, as more and more automobiles become equipped with voice-recognition digital radios, it becomes imperative for your audience to have easy access to tuning your station through simple voice commands, such as "Tune in KEHH." Read this blog entry regarding TuneIn.com's "Car Mode" for more details.
Q: Does obtaining an IRUC mean that I no longer have to pay fees or royalties for streaming music on my station?
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).
Q: We are selling our Internet Radio station. Can we transfer the IRUC to the new station owner? Are there fees for transferring ownership?
A: You may transfer the IRUC to a new owner at any time. We charge a nominal administrative fee for updating the ownership record, which includes preparing documents showing the new owner's information.
Q: Can we sell the IRUC to a new owner?
A: If you are approached by another Internet Radio station that would like to purchase an IRUC assigned to you, you may set any price that you and the new owner agree to. We charge a nominal administrative fee for updating the ownership record, which includes preparing documents showing the new owner's information.
Q: I tried to register an IRUC that spelled [EXPLETIVE] and was rejected. Why?
A: We encourage you to be creative with the IRUC that you request, but, while we do not censor or regulate Internet broadcasting or your station's content in any manner, we reserve the right to refuse registration of any IRUC that contains letters that spell or otherwise imply a word or term that, in our opinion, may be considered offensive, vulgar, racist or obscene.
Q: We hold the registered trademark to [IMAGING]. Another streaming Internet station has registered an IRUC that violates that trademark. What do I do?
A: We respect your valid trademark registration, and do not knowingly issue IRUCs that violate trademarks, service marks or other copyrighted material. Please contact us with the particulars, and we will take appropriate action immediately.
Q: Does IRUC publish a directory of stations and call letters?
A: At the present time, we are compiling a comprehensive online directory of Internet Radio stations, listing callsigns, locations, formats, stream URLs and bitrates. Due to the sheer number of stations obtaining IRUCs, we are hoping to launch the directory in the near future. You should, however, be certain to list your station's callsign with Reciva.com, RadioTime.com and other digital radio station directories.
To make sure that your station is included in the directory, apply for your callsign today.