An automated method and system for identifying broadcast programs wherein a pattern recognition process is combined with a signalling event which acts as a trigger signal. At least one such trigger, or "cue" signal, occurs with each broadcast of every program which is to be identified; and these signals are used to activate the pattern recognition process which results in program identification. These cue signals can either be artificially inserted into the program signal or they can be events which occur naturally as part of normal broadcast procedures. A segment of each program at a predetermined location with respect to one of these cue signals is sampled and processed according to a feature extraction algorithm to form the program's reference signature, which is stored in computer memory. In the field, the monitoring equipment detects cue signals broadcast by a monitored station and, upon detection, samples the broadcast program signal at the same predetermined location with respect to the detected cue and uses the same feature extraction process to create a broadcast signature of unknown program identity. By comparing broadcast signatures to reference signatures, a computer identifies the broadcasts of programs whose reference signatures have been stored in memory.