In most cases, this is the short announcement between programs that identifies the network. Closely related to station identification.
There is another kind of continuity announcement. If something goes wrong in transmission of a program, the network will usually have a message ready, such as "Temporary Fault" or "Program Change". Or "We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties, please stand by" or the ever-popular Test Pattern.
In many European countries, presenters known as "continuity announcers" or "station hosts" were employed by TV stations to appear on camera to identify the station and often introduce the programme schedule. This practice only happens on a handful of European TV stations today, with out-of-vision announcements, live (The BBC way) or pre-recorded, the main order of the day. Shows have been known to parody the latter type of announcement in scenes considered too violent, or someone actually attacking the cameraman or other production staff.
Continuity announcers also existed in North America in The '50s, mainly due to technical limitations - cuing up and playing short snippets of audio on reel-to-reel tape was time-consuming and fraught with error. So why hire two technicians to run the machines when you could hire one announcer to do it all live? Even after the "cart" became ubiquitous, the major networks still kept a live announcer on duty during the evening hours in case a breaking news bulletin needed to be passed on. (Before roughly 1970 television cameras contained temperamental tubes which had to be warmed up for 30 minutes before the cameras could be used. This is why the first bulletins of the Kennedy assassination were audio clips accompanied by a "breaking news" slide.) Nowadays, when the news department is operating 24 hours a day 7 days a week and can be on air with a moment's notice, live continuity announcers are far less common.
Examples of continuity announcers:
- Many of the Flemish networks, including één, VT 4 and VIJF tv, still use in-vision announcers.
- Irish-language station TG 4 has in-vision continuity announcers, who double up as the channel's weather forecasters. Given the channel runs many different weather forecasts during the day (including individual ones on temperature, sea conditions, etc.), you get to see their announcing team on a regular basis — and they even plug programmes during the weather forecasts.
- On Italian television, announcers were exclusively female and referred to as signorine buonasera, or "good-evening ladies". Today, only the main network, RAI, still features signorine buonasera. Many of them were just as well-known and loved as if they were famous actresses. RAI featured a single male announcer, from 2009 to 2010.
- Announcers are known as hallåa in Swedish and still appear on camera on SVT 1 and TV 4.
- The BBC has in-vision announcers on its Scots Gaelic channel, BBC Alba.
- For a very brief period in 2008, they experimented with an in-vision announcer on BBC Three, who had to compete with the pre-recorded links by the other voice of the station. In 2009, BBC Three then opened its continuity to User Generated Content — sometimes this worked very well. The rest of the time, it was badly-compressed webcam footage of some teenager stumbling over the name of the following programme.
- One other interesting fact; the BBC is probably the only network in the world to have the continuity announcer's booth double as the set where the Excited Kids Show Hosts did their thing. In fact, come to think of it, it's also probably the only network where the Excited Kids' Show Host had to personally press the button that cued up the next cartoon. CBBC had No Budget back in the Eighties.
- The Northern Ireland version of ITV, UTV, still uses in-vision continuity, unlike the other companies in the ITV network who abandoned the practice over time. This is due to the long-running popularity of a guy called Julian Simmons, whose introductions to Soap Opera Coronation Street somehow acquired near-legendary status. Julian's presenting style is arguably as divisive among viewers as more serious matters in that part of the world. For many years, only Julian was allowed by UTV management to present in-vision continuity links, but recently, the station has let its other staff announcers appear on camera to introduce the programmes.
Parodies of continuity announcers:
- Spoof continuity announcements were a regular element of Monty Python's Flying Circus: "Now on BBC television, a choice of viewing. On BBC 2 - a discussion on censorship between Derek Hart, the Bishop of Woolwich, and a nude man. And on BBC 1 - me telling you this."
- A regular feature of the TV version of Dead Ringers is a parody of continuity announcements from all UK TV channels; as much a send-up of the ethos of each channel (e.g. ITV with trashy reality shows, Channel 4's obsession with property programmes) than its presentation style.
- The radio version also sent up Radio 4's continuity announcers, in particular how they come up with hilariously tenuous links between the programmes preceding and following them, often based on a pun.
- Victoria Wood As Seen On TV featured a parody of the typical in-vision continuity announcer who still prevailed on UK TV at the time, played by Susie Blake.
"We would like to apologise to viewers in the North. It must be awful for them."
- Similarly, an Irish satirical comedy series in the 1980s featured a parody of a 1960s in-vision female Telefís Éireann announcer, sending up the parochial style of Ireland in that era.