2. Programming

By agreement with the City of Cambridge, the community cable channels are administered by CCTV. These channels are provided as a public forum for solely noncommercial speech and are therefore not subject to content regulation by CCTV, the City of Cambridge, or the cable operator. CCTV is content neutral and any content that is considered protected speech under the First Amendment of the US Constitution is permissible on CCTV’s channels. As a public forum, CCTV’s channels are available to all Cambridge residents for noncommercial, constitutionally protected speech on a nondiscriminatory basis. Such speech is subject only to reasonable time, place and manner requirements as defined in these programming policies. The Cambridge resident who provides programming for CCTV’s channels takes personal responsibility for the content of that programming by signing the Cablecast Agreement.

A. Submission of Programming

Definition: For the purposes of these Programming Policies, the term “program provider” means the Cambridge resident or the Cambridge business/organization whose designated representative signs the Cablecast Agreement.

Time on CCTV’s channels is available for programming produced or sponsored by Cambridge residents, or designated representatives from Cambridge businesses and organizations. Any resident, business, or organization with a valid Cambridge address may sponsor a Single Program. A Series Program must be sponsored by a Cambridge resident. CCTV regulations require that either the producer or the sponsor of a series program be an Affiliate or Access Member of CCTV.

A Cablecast Agreement for Series or Single programs must accompany media submitted for cablecast. This Cablecast Agreement functions as a contract between the program provider and CCTV. Series Cablecast Agreements must be resubmitted once per calendar year as long as the series is active. Formatting and labeling requirements are detailed on the Cablecast Agreement.

CCTV staff has the right not to show or stop a program if the audio and/or video signal is below minimum technical standards as determined by those monitoring the channel signal. CCTV staff will be consulted before a program is not shown or pulled from the channels.

B. Program Delivery and Pickup

Programs may be submitted in person during normal CCTV operating hours. Internet submissions are acceptable, however, arrangements must be made with the Programming Coordinator. Under special circumstances and only by permission of the Programming Coordinator, shows may be mailed to CCTV. A Cablecast Agreement must accompany all submissions of Single programs. The first episode in a Series must be submitted with a signed Cablecast Agreement. All subsequent Series episodes must be submitted at least two business days before their scheduled cablecast. Exceptions may be made only at the discretion of CCTV staff.

For each individual program or Series episode, program providers will have one month from the last cablecast date to pick up their programs. Media will not be returned by mail. Media left at CCTV for over a month after the last scheduled play date becomes property of CCTV. CCTV is not responsible for media lost, stolen, broken, or erased while on the premises.

C. Content Responsibility and Liability

The responsibility and liability for program content lies solely with the program provider, that is, the Cambridge resident or Cambridge business or organization whose designated representative signs the Cablecast Agreement. CCTV, the cable operator, and the City of Cambridge assume that the program provider has obtained all necessary releases and clearances. The program provider may be asked to furnish proof that proper releases and clearances have been obtained. CCTV, the City of Cambridge, and the cable operator are not responsible for the content of the programming shown on the community cable channels or on CCTV’s website.

D. Programming Restrictions
Presentation of the following is prohibited:

  • Any commercial advertising or programming (except during non-English programming on Channel 22) including:
    - promotion of the sale of any service or product
    - price information
    - commercial calls to action or inducements to buy
    - within permitted programming, contact information must be limited to the name of an individual, business or organization. Addresses, phone numbers, and websites may not be included.
  • Programming that does not have clearances, releases, or other assurances from copyright holders and/or those appearing in the production
  • Programming that falls below minimal technical standards for cablecast. Please see
    the Cablecast Agreement for information on formatting requirements.
  • Programming that does not fall under constitutionally protected speech and raises serious risk of liability on the part of CCTV. This may include, but is not limited to: libel, slander, unlawful invasion of privacy, sedition (advocacy of violent overthrow of the government), or obscene material.
  • Obscene material as determined by the courts is material which:
    - to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest,
    - depicts or describes sexual content in a patently offensive way, and
    - taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

E. Potentially Objectionable Material

Unlike obscene material, potentially objectionable material may be shown on CCTV’s channels, but CCTV’s staff will schedule this material between the hours of 11 PM and 5 AM. It is the responsibility of the program provider who signs the Cablecast Agreement to indicate on that Agreement whether or not a program includes potentially objectionable material.

Potentially objectionable material may include, but is not limited to:

  • strong coarse language, intensely suggestive dialogue, or coarse indecent language
  • intense sexual situations or explicit sexual activity
  • intense or graphic physical violence or degradation
  • most forms of nudity
  • graphic depiction of medical procedures

Note of clarification for BeLive and CCR producers: All programming, both live and pre-recorded, is subject to the full set of Programming policies and obligations. Currently, all live programming is scheduled before 11 PM and therefore may not contain any Potentially Objectionable Material.

Note: Any program provider who violates CCTV’s content guidelines or misrepresents the content of a program on the Cablecast Agreement will receive a written Notice of Violation (see Section Six ~ Violations of Policy p. 20). A second such offense will result in a second written Notice of Violation and the program will be scheduled between the hours of 11 PM and 5 AM. Scheduling decisions and Notices of Violation for programming infractions may be appealed to CCTV’s Programming and Policies Committee, consisting of representatives from the CCTV Board of Directors, staff, and Members Advisory Committee. Appeals must be made within ten business days of an action by submitting a request, in writing, to the Committee. Within ten business days of receiving a request, the Committee will schedule a meeting, which will occur no more than twenty business days after the appeal is submitted. Decisions of the Committee may be appealed to the full Board of Directors by submitting a request, in writing, within ten business days of the Committee’s decision. The Board will consider the appeal at its next scheduled meeting. During the appeal process, the program in question will be shown between 11 PM and 5 AM.

CCTV has the right to place a disclaimer before, during, and after any program that, as indicated by the program provider or in the best judgment of CCTV staff, may be objectionable to cable subscribers. The disclaimer will advise viewer discretion for the program and will indicate that responsibility for the content of the program lies with the program provider and not with CCTV, the City of Cambridge, or the cable provider. If placed during the program such a notice will be as discreet as possible in order to avoid interference with the program content.

F. Scheduling

CCTV staff will program the channels with the goal of presenting a coherent schedule to cable subscribers, building the audience, diversifying programming, distributing channel time equitably, and minimizing technical issues. CCTV staff will retain the right to schedule each program in a time slot that is appropriate for its content and likely audience. In the interest of ensuring diversity of programming and equitable distribution of channel time, submissions from a single program provider shall not include more than one non-local Series.

Programs will be scheduled in a timely manner (usually one to two weeks after submission). Program providers will be notified of their timeslots the first time the program is broadcast on CCTV. Notification of subsequent timeslots is at the Programming Coordinator’s discretion.

G. Scheduling Priorities

When scheduling CCTV’s channels, first priority is given to programs produced by CCTV Members. Second priority is given to programs produced by Cambridge residents who are not CCTV Members. Third priority is given to non-local programs. Series and Single programs are considered separately; therefore a locally produced Single submission will not displace a non-local Series. CCTV reserves the right to pre-empt all programs for live or special event coverage.

CCTV staff will attempt to accommodate all requests and will not exclude any Cambridge resident from showing a program on the community channels. All programming schedule decisions by CCTV staff are final.

Viewers may contact the Programming Coordinator to request that programming be repeated and CCTV staff will, to the best of its ability, try to satisfy such requests. At the discretion of the Programming Coordinator, the program provider responsible for the program may be notified of the repeat.

H. BeLive and Cambridge Community Radio Programming

BeLive and Cambridge Community Radio (CCR) are live, interactive programming formats provided by CCTV for Cambridge residents, organizations, and businesses to produce programming. Any Cambridge resident may use BeLive or CCR once at no cost; only Access Members may produce BeLive or CCR series.

A BeLive or CCR slot may be requested by submitting a BeLive or CCR Agreement, which includes all of the rules and procedures related to BeLive and CCR programming and indicates that the program provider consents to these rules and procedures. The Programming Coordinator will set up a training session with the producer prior to scheduling a slot.

BeLive and CCR series are renewable on an annual basis and a BeLive or CCR Agreement must be resubmitted. Annually, CCTV staff will attempt to provide a renewing BeLive or CCR program the same time slot, however, the same time slot is not guaranteed. BeLive and CCR series are subject to cancellation if the producer consistently misses shows. Please see the BeLive and CCR Agreements for more information.

BeLive and CCR programs are subject to the same restrictions as other programming on CCTV’s channels. However, due to the time slots available for the production of live programming, potentially objectionable content is prohibited during BeLive and CCR slots. Any BeLive or CCR producer who violates CCTV’s content guidelines or misrepresents the content of a program on the BeLive Agreement or CCR Agreement will receive a Notice of Violation (see Section Six ~ Violations of Policy p. 20). A second such offense will result in cancellation of the live program.

I. Series Programming

Definition: A Series consists of at least four new programs with a consistent theme and/or format. To meet the requirements of series programming, at least one new episode per month must be submitted.

Time slots: Persons providing a series may request a regular time slot, which will be granted when an appropriate time becomes available. Series time slots are renewed annually on a calendar-year basis and a Cablecast Agreement must be resubmitted at that time. CCTV staff will attempt to provide a renewing Series the same time slot, however, the same time slot is not guaranteed.

In order to maintain a time slot, and to meet the requirements of a Series, the program provider must submit at least one new episode per month. New episodes should be submitted at least two days prior to the cablecast date or by special arrangement with the Programming Coordinator. Episodes that have previously played on CCTV channels may be re-submitted only after at least six months have elapsed since the original cablecast. Cancellation of a Series time slot may result from a failure to meet the above conditions and is at the discretion of the Programming Coordinator. CCTV staff may require four episodes to be submitted with the renewal of a show previously cancelled due to episodes not being supplied in a timely manner.

J. Disclosure of Information and Comment

CCTV shall maintain a viewer response line at 617-401-4010. Viewers and Members of the general public may leave comments or ask to be contacted by the program provider and CCTV staff will relay that information. The name of a program provider will be provided upon request.

K. Copies of Cablecast Programs

If a viewer requests copies of a program, CCTV staff will contact the producer for permission, and if permission is granted will provide copies for a reasonable fee.

L. Use of Community Bulletin Board

CCTV operates an electronic Community Bulletin Board, which is shown on the channels when no other video programming is scheduled. Events or notices sponsored by non-profit organizations and the City of Cambridge are listed as space allows, and are generally shown for one week, prior to the posted event. CCTV gives priority to Cambridge-related notices, but there is no guarantee that every notice submitted will be shown. Notices sponsored by political campaigns or candidates are not permitted. All other programming restrictions apply to the Community Bulletin Board.

Notices may be submitted by email to bulletinboard@cctvcambridge.org, fax to 617-661-6927, or mail to CCTV, 438 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA. 02139.

M. Political Campaigning

Political candidates are subject to the same operating procedures as other program providers for CCTV’s channels. Everyone in the community has equal access to the facilities and channel time. There is no equal time rule for cable television.

It is CCTV’s responsibility to provide an open political forum. CCTV considers election programming to commence with certification of candidates for the ballot and to end on Election Day. Within two weeks of certification, all candidates on the local and county ballot will receive notice of CCTV's policies and availability of resources. CCTV has no responsibility to produce programming for candidates simply because another candidate requests resources. It is the responsibility of the candidates or those working on their behalf to submit programming, or to become Access Members and produce programs to be shown on CCTV’s channels.

N. Publicity

CCTV staff will publicize programs in a variety of ways, including listings on the CCTV website, in the Cambridge Chronicle, Cambridge TAB, and on the electronic Community Bulletin Board. Please consult the Programming Coordinator for deadlines and more information. In addition, program providers are encouraged to consult the staff for guidance in preparing short promotional spots or utilizing other avenues for publicizing their program.