Wikipedia:Naming conventions (broadcasting)
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This page sets out guidelines for the names of articles relating to broadcasting. Wikipedia:WikiProject Television Stations and Wikipedia:WikiProject Radio Stations are projects related to these topics.
For guidelines relating specifically to television programming, see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (television).
The distinction between the terms "network", "channel", and "station" is often confusing and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably in common parlance. An easy way to distinguish between them for article name purposes is to decide where the article fits within this paradigm:
- Parent corporations own media divisions which operate various networks that provide content over one or more channels on cable, satellite, internet streaming, or broadcast by one or more independently-owned stations.
Examples of this paradigm:
- BBC (corporation) operates BBC Television (network) which provides BBC One (channel) from many transmitters around the UK.
- Viacom (corporation) owns Viacom Media Networks (division) which operates BET (network) which provides its flagship channel BET and sister channels such as BET Her and BET Gospel.
- NBCUniversal (corporation) operates NBC (network) which is broadcast by WNBC (station) in New York on channel 4.
Parent companies/corporations follow Wikipedia:Naming conventions (companies).
Radio and television networks are content providers for programming, often nationally or internationally, and usually over multiple services (broadcast, satellite, cable, web streaming etc.). Networks are usually distinct incorporations or subsidiaries. They are often heavily branded to use shortened forms or initialisms of their business names, and should be the primary way of naming the article, using redirects to aid navigation for handling formal names or prior branding (e.g. primary article ESPN with redirect from Entertainment and Sports Programming Network).
Disambiguation – Use of the longer business name is appropriate when disambiguation is needed (e.g. The Sports Network linked from TSN disambig page). Articles about networks can also use (radio network) or (TV network) to disambiguate. The addition of the country or other clarifying adjective can be used to further disambiguate. Examples: Bravo (American TV network).
A channel is a broadcast frequency or virtual number over which a radio station/television station or radio network/television network is distributed. The term is now more generally used to describe an individual content stream provided by one managing network brand.
Note: "Channel" in article texts and naming is largely deprecated on Wikipedia and should be reserved only for articles about a single content stream with information too extensive to be included in the primary article for the associated network – e.g. Fox Sports 2 channel, a part of Fox Sports network. Of course, another appropriate use of the word "channel" for article naming is when a network or station uses it as their proper name – e.g. Channel 4.
Disambiguation – Articles about channels should use (radio channel) or (TV channel). The addition of the country or other clarifying adjective can be used to further disambiguate.
Radio and television stations are broadcast entities most commonly associated with operating transmitters which cover localities or small regions, but often affiliated with larger networks, as above. In countries where call signs are customarily used, such as North America, articles should always be titled with the official call sign as assigned by that country's regulatory authority. In places where call signs are not normally assigned to broadcast stations, the article title should be the officially registered name of the station, or else the name by which the station most commonly identifies itself (for instance, Voice of Russia or Radio Sawa). Many countries have stations or networks with similar names (e.g., "Radio One" in much of the English-speaking world), so article titles should instead be chosen to reduce the possibility for confusion and title duplication as much as possible. In places with a mix of call signs and station names, such as most of Central America, South America and Australia, the station name should normally be used, except when the call sign is more well-known.
Disambiguation – Articles about broadcast stations should use (radio station) or (TV station) to disambiguate, except for North America as outlined below.
The official call sign can usually be determined by checking with the FCC's Common Database System (fcc.gov), Industry Canada's Spectrum Direct (sd.ic.gc.ca), or the IFT's PDF station listings (). Be aware that many periodicals and even stations themselves do not always use correct call signs. Also be aware that not all call signs are four letters; in Mexico they often have five or six (depending on the age of the station and also based on the names of noncommercial entities to which they are assigned), and in all three countries they may have as few as three.
If the official call sign has a suffix (-CA, -CD, -DT, -FM, -LD, -LP, and -TV are the only suffixes currently in use in the United States; usually only -DT, -FM, and -TV in Canada; and -AM, -FM, -TDT and -OC in Mexico), a redirect or disambiguation should be added for the call sign without the suffix. For stations which do not have a suffix, if disambiguation is necessary (because the official call sign conflicts with an airport code or acronym), place the type of service in parentheses; for example, "KSFO (AM)" or "KDFW (TV)". Note that U.S. AM stations never have a suffix, and FM and TV stations generally have a suffix only if they share (or once shared) their call sign with another station on a different broadcast band. But with the exception of CBC-owned television stations with a call sign in the format CB-(-)T, Canadian FM and TV stations always have a suffix whether the call sign is shared or not. Mexican stations also invariably have suffixes. See Callsigns in North America for more information on assignment practices.
Alternate brand names such as "Fox 25", "The Edge", "Q107" or "Jack FM" are very rarely unique, and "Jack FM Toronto" or "Q107 Memphis" are not appropriate article titles. A brand name may, however, be created as a redirect or a disambiguation page where appropriate.
Where a single broadcast outlet operates several transmitters with different call signs, create the article at the call sign which is considered the primary station, and make the other call signs redirects to that call sign. Where a station has changed call signs, please put the station's entire history in its current call sign, as the old call signs may subsequently be reassigned to new stations. For defunct stations, a title containing some form of disambiguation, such as WVUE (Delaware), may be advisable.
Where a broadcast outlet operates a low-power transmitter as part of a major national network, the same content is often duplicated to a digital subchannel of a full-power TV station or to a local cable television operation. If any independent ITU callsign exists (even with a broadcast translator-like numbering or suffix pattern like W47CK or WNYF-CD) this should be used as the unique identifier even where it is the weaker signal.
The notability of broadcasts carried only on digital subchannels or cable TV depends largely on content; see Wikipedia:Notability (media)#Broadcast media. A channel originating content under a major network affiliation unrelated from that of the parent station may in some circumstances qualify for an article but, as a digital subchannel, its legal on-air identity technically remains that of the parent station. A WWTI-DT2 subchannel, for instance, does not receive a unique legal callsign distinct from the parent WWTI-TV, even though it may used to carry entirely different national network affiliations or content from the main channel.
Subchannels with related network content (such as NBC and NBC Weather Plus, or PBS, PBS World and PBS Create) should be treated as one entity and kept in the main article for the parent station. The same is true of purely local content, such as 24-hour news or weather reports. Unofficial callsigns (such as WBU (The CW Plus)) should be replaced with names based on the valid calls of the parent station, where such exist (for instance, WKTV-DT2). There is no means to prevent an unofficial callsign from being duplicated later as a valid ID on a real station in some other region.
Articles about broadcasting terminology
Articles which cover general concepts or terminology related to the broadcasting industry or technology (but not programming) should use, as appropriate: