Originally Posted by Bismarck440
Always wondered what would happen if the US ran out of call combinations, if they had another first Alpha (likely A or N) or would just add a character. I don't see this happening now with the demise of the broadcast bands & The United States willingness to go to pay services.
Here is a really, really, really long answer to your question on why they won't be running out of call signs.
That has never really been an issue. Within the television service are really 3 classifications, TV denoting full power stations, Class A denoting lower powered stations that get full power type interference protection and LP denoting low power that really have no interference protection from full power stations. Within each classification, you have 9999 calls signs starting with W east of the Mississippi River and 9999 call signs starting with K west of the Mississippi. That means you have three sets of two total. For instance, WABC TV (choice of TV or DT, most reverting to old analog TV on June 13, 2009 if used), WABC CA (CD for digital) and WABC LP (LD for digital) could all be issued to three different stations, one as a full power (TV), one as a Class A (CA) and one as a low power (LP) and in some markets you do have LP translators that rebroadcast the full power station and they use the same call letters with LP attached. LP's and translators also have a W and K counterpart where the W or K prefix is followed by the channel number followed by 2 letters issued sequentially (ex W35AX) and then can request a 4 letter call if available in their classification. That is why during the digital transition, the digital stations all had -DT suffixes. That was to differentiate from the analog, even though in the eyes of the FCC, they were the same station but with different set of rules at times. That is why on station ID's, you saw something like WABC-TV/WABC-DT or WABC-TV/DT. After the analog shutdown, stations had the choice to continue using the -DT suffix or revert back to the call sign used on the analog. Vast majority reverted to their analog call sign, with a very few that kept the -DT suffix. Personally I can only think of one station that kept their -DT suffix after the analog shutdown and let their -TV suffix go and I have never found out why.
Further example, each broadcast service, Standard Broadcast (AM and shortwave), FM and TV all have the same 9999 calls in the K and W ranges. The class suffix denotes the difference. With Standard Broadcast (AM) there are no suffixes issued. The call is only 4 letters. There is no WABC AM as an issued call sign. The FCC doesn't do it. As a caveat, there is no requirement for a suffix on ANY broadcast station, as long as the call isn't being used in the Standard Broadcast service. Example, AM station A is issued call WABC. Any other station (non AM) who wants the call sign WABC must append a suffix denoting the service the station is licensed to. So you could have a WABC-FM, WABC-TV, as well as WABC-CA and WABC-LP. The legal call sign would be "WABC (suffix), city of license. That is how the FCC requires stations to identify themselves. WABC denotes (usually) an AM station, WABC-FM a FM station, and so on. The exception to the rule is if there is no AM station issued with the call sign a non AM station wants it, they can get it then the FM or TV could be issued just the 4 letters with no suffix. That is why you have some TV stations with TV at the end and some don't. FM stations as well. Example: There used to be an AM station, WJW in Cleveland. There was also a WJW-TV at the same time (yes I know, for a time it had the call letters WJKW, but that is a different rule that was later changed - I am going for simplicity here, please bare with me). As far as the FCC was concerned, they were two separate call signs. When the AM station changed call letters, that freed up WJW with no suffix. WJW-TV later applied for a call sign change from WJW-TV to WJW.
In my own stations case, we had a "TV" suffix for years. It used to be required by the FCC in the early years and we used it as a marketing gimmick when TV was new to bring attention to our station. I am sure other TV stations did the same thing. 1929 was the last time my stations call letters were on a different station, never mind a different service and to this day, we are still the only one. About 15 years ago we applied for and dropped the "TV" suffix and now only identify with 4 letters followed by city of license and when we correspondent with the FCC we write "(TV)" after the calls to keep the confusion factor down with them. If it were an FM station with no suffix, they would append "(FM)" to FCC correspondence.
It can get confusing. The government and their rules.