Pause sign

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The break characters ( English interval signal is) an acoustic signal between two radio or television programs in the radio and television , which is intended to bridge the interruption and also serves as the transmitter recognition.

Pause sign of the former Swiss Radio International (SRI)


Between the end of one program and the beginning of the next, public service broadcasters in Germany or Switzerland did not previously send a bridging commercial block , but rather a repeating pause signal. On the one hand, it served as a bridge between two transmissions during a transmission break , and on the other hand, it was also used as station identification. In addition, the longer switching phases between two transmitters - for technical reasons - were bridged with pause signals. It is also used as a unique identifier for each transmitter.


Historical pause sign of the BBC
International Break Marks (1934)

Pause signs are as old as the radio. In the USA, pause symbols were largely not used in private broadcasting because advertising blocks and jingles were used to identify stations. In contrast, public broadcasting without advertising mostly used self-produced pauses. The transmitter MIRAG (Leipzig) has been broadcasting the ticking sound of an alarm clock since 1924 , the German transmitter introduced a new pause signal in 1933, which was generated by a pause signal generator. In a radio specialist in 1934, individual characteristic pause signs were listed with notes. One of the best-known pause symbols is the BBC's BBBC tone sequence , which corresponds to the Morse code · · · -  for “ V ” (= Victory ) and is similar to the opening notes of Beethoven's Fate Symphony. Both were used for propaganda purposes during World War II . Because of the high density of stations on medium wave and especially short wave , the transmitters based on these radio frequencies with pause signals have enabled them to be identified by the radio listener and given him the opportunity to set the radio frequency correctly. Break signals were also broadcast by state radio stations broadcasting propaganda programs (e.g. Radio Moscow with the voice of Russia for the first time on October 29, 1929, Radio Habana Cuba from May 1, 1961). At the beginning of the 1950s, the three GDR radio stations played a passage from the workers' song When we walk from 'to side' .

In Germany, public service broadcasters have long ignored the fact that the pause signs have been withdrawn in favor of jingles worldwide. At that time, the classic pause sign certainly had no meaning in the context of acoustic branding . It was only with the advent of private broadcasting in January 1984, which immediately started using jingles, that the pause signs were gradually abolished in public broadcasting. They were also broadcast on German television; So-called source identifiers , which were already used on television worldwide , were also used much later in Germany.

Instrumentation and content

The self-produced pauses were mostly based on existing compositions that were reproduced in abbreviated form. The WDR used a motif from Beethoven's “In all good hours” ( Opus  122), which was played for the first time on January 1, 1956 since the NWDR was split into NDR and WDR. The Bayerische Rundfunk played a passage from the folk song Solang old Peter - actually of Carl Lorens composed for Vienna. The Sender Free Berlin broadcast the musical translation of its broadcast name - the tone sequence Es-FB (pronounced SFB ). Pause signals were played by one or more instruments or a so-called pause signal generator was generated. With the advent of the tape recorder, a tape loop was used. After the introduction of digital tuning systems, the use of pause signs declined, but has not yet been completely abandoned. Since the pause signs have almost completely disappeared from everyday radio and television usage worldwide, collectors are trying to complete entire databases with pause signs. Today, pause signs are being replaced by jingles as identification aids on radio and by what is known as source identification on television .

List of rest characters

The sound samples are MIDI files according to the notation , not original recordings.

Until 1945

Source: German radio

German language area

  • Ravag Vienna : alarm clock ticking 270 / min

Northern Europe

  • Oslo
    {\ key e \ major \ time 4/4 <g sharp '' b ''> 4 \ times 2/3 {g sharp '' 8 e '' g sharp ''} <dis '' f sharp '' b ''> 2 < e '' g sharp ''> \ skip2}
  • Copenhagen
    {\ time 4/4 f'4 a 'g' a 'f' e 'd' f 'a' a 'a' f 'd'2. ~ d'2.}

Western Europe

  • Brussels II: Benoit , Beiaardlied
    {\ key g \ major \ time 2/4 \ skip4 b'4 b 'a' c '' b 'g'2 d'4 b' b 'a'8 b' c''4 fis' d''2 ~ d ''}
  • Barcelona
    {\ key g \ major \ time 3/8 d''8 (b 'd' ') e' '(c' '-. a') g'4 g'8 d''8 (b 'd' ' ) e '' (c '' -. a ') g'4.  a'8 (fis' a ') b' (g 'd') d'4 d'8 d''8 (b 'd' ') e' '(c' 'a') g'4 r8}
  • Madrid
    {\ key g \ major \ time 3/4 \ skip4 \ skip4.  g'8 d''8.  b'16 \ times 2/3 {g'8 a 'b'} \ times 2/3 {c '' b 'a'} d''4.  \ skip4.}

Eastern Europe

  • Helsinki
    {\ time 3/4 \ skip4.  g'8 e 'f' g'4.  c''8 d''8.  g'16 e''2 c''4 a'8.  d''16 c''4 b 'c''2 g'4}
  • Tallinn: alarm clock ticking 150 / min
  • Kaunas
    {\ key es \ major \ time 4/4 \ skip2.  es'4 bes'2 bes'8 bes'16.  bes'32 g'8 es' es''4. (c''8) bes'2 es''4 f''8 es' 'bes'4 es''8 (c' ') d' '(es '') c''4 bes' r4}
  • Riga
    {\ time 2/4 <bes d 'f' bes' bes' '> 8.  <bes d 'f' bes 'bes' '> 16 <d' f 'bes' d '' c '' '> 4 <bes d' f 'bes' bes ''> 8.  <bes d 'f' bes' bes' '> 16 <d' f 'bes' d' 'c' ''> 4}
  • Warsaw: Chopin , Polonaise in A major
    {\ key a \ major \ time 3/4 <a cis' a'> 8 [r16 <cis' e '>] <cis' e'> 8 [r16 <cis' e '>] <d' fis'> 16 <d 'gis'> <d' a '> <d' b '> <cis' cis''> 8 [r16 <cis' a '>] <cis' a'> 2}
  • Katowice: hammer blows on anvil
  • Budapest
    {\ key e \ major \ time 4/4 <e 'g sharp'> 4 <g sharp 'b'> <f sharp 'a'> <dis 'b'> <e 'g sharp'> 4 <g sharp 'b'> < fis 'a'> <dis 'b'> <dis 'fis'> \ skip2.}
  • Bucharest
    {\ key g \ major \ time 2/4 g'8.  a'16 b'8 g 'a' a 'f sharp' d 'g'8.  a'16 b'8 g '<fis' d ''> 2 \ fermata}
  • Zagreb: alarm clock ticking 100 / min
  • Belgrade
    {\ key a \ major \ time 2/4 <cis' 'e' '> 4 <a' fis' '> 8 <d' 'fis''> <cis' 'e' '> 4 <a' cis' '> 4 <b' d ''> 8 <gis 'e' '> <a' cis ''> 4}

After 1945

Source: World Radio TV Handbook

Web links

Commons : pause marks  - collection of images, videos, and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Radio Museum; Funkschau 17/1933
  2. Der Deutsche Rundfunk , 12, issue 49, November 30, 1934
  3. Separate cash register . In: Der Spiegel . No. 2 , 1956, p. 35 ( online ).
  4. ^ Website on international pause marks
  5. When waiting still helped . An obituary for the pause sign. In: NZZ . December 20, 2003 ( ).
  7. Audio:
  9. ^ Ö1 heard belongs (1997), p. 218.