FAQ: I currently "own" a call sign (with a -DB suffix) for my internet radio station, can I use that call sign on my LPFM station?

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The “-DB” call signs are not official callsigns issued by any government administration recognized by the International Telecommunications Union, which maintains the internationally agreed to assignment of call sign “ranges” for use by national telecommunications administrations worldwide. 

The “-DB” call sign, also known as a Digital Radio Uniform Identifier (DRuID) or Internet Radio Uniform Callsign (IRUC), is a product of a for-profit company called the “National Association of Digital Broadcasters” (NADB).  While the company’s website shows a street address in Washington, DC, that address is merely nothing more than a virtual mailbox in a print shop in the DC metro area.  According to the entity’s LinkedIn page, they are likely based out of Canada. 

There is no recognized international standard by a nongovernment organization (NGO) body (ITU, ANSI, ETSI, etc.) for these IRUCs.

There is no correlation between the the IRUC and the official call signs issued by the Federal Communications Commission.  Therefore, assignments of official call signs for licensed radio and television broadcasting are completely independent of the namespace used by NADB for their IRUC product.  There can be duplication between the two independent namespaces (sans the suffixes).

Registering a “call sign” through IRUC is no different than “naming a star” with the for-profit International Star Registry, which admits on their website, is not recognized by the scientific community.  Likewise, the IRUC is not recognized by the FCC as a real call sign and has absolutely no legal standing in any FCC matter.

In all fairness, it does appear that the NADB does provide some informational and educational content on their website as well as provide visibility to internet broadcasters and suppliers of products and services to the internet broadcasting community.  With that, they are not necessarily a “scam” as much as they are an over glorified internet radio station directory where “members” must pay for their listings.

Just because you “own” an IRUC “-DB” call sign does not mean anything where it comes to “ownership” of a broadcast call sign in the FCC space for licensed broadcast stations.

All broadcast stations in the United States (full-service and LPFM) must have an FCC assigned call sign before they go on the air.  The use of an IRUC “-DB” call sign will not suffice and is not legal as the sole identity of the station.  Just because you “purchased” the IRUC “-DB” call sign, it conveys absolutely no rights in connection with any licensed over the air operation. 

For new stations, the FCC call sign cannot be assigned until after the applicant’s original construction permit application is granted.  Once granted, a call sign can be reserved in LMS by filing a Call Sign Request application.  Once filed, the call sign will be effective in 7 days.  A list of potentially available call signs can be seen at https://recnet.net/calls.  If your IRUC call sign is also available at the FCC, consider yourself lucky. 

If you do decide to continue to use an IRUC call sign for an internet radio station that is simulcasting on an LPFM, you must identify the LPFM station using the FCC assigned call sign (including the -LP suffix).  If you decide to announce both call signs at the top of the hour, we strongly suggest that you announce the FCC required legal ID first (including the community of license as shown at the FCC) and then some "buffer" langauge before announcing the IRUC call sign.  For example:

"WAAA-LP, Riverton - also heard over the internet as WZZZ-DB, Riverton"

Please note: if you are able to get your FCC and IRUC call sign with the same four letters, the following top of the hour ID is not allowed:

"WAAA LP and DB, Riverton"

NOTE: Never use the terms "digital" or "digital broadcast" during the time when you are announcing your top of the hour legal FCC ID unless you are using it appropriately in connection with an LPFM station that is running HD Radio.  

LPFM program content/station operations/noncommercial nature
LPFM station planning and construction
LPFM during the filing window
Answer Date: 
Thursday, January 25, 2024