Proposed Programming Policy Changes

Proposed Programming Policy Changes

Dear CCTV Members,

The Programming and Policies Committee of the Board of Directors, consisting of Board, Staff, and Members Advisory Committee representatives, has been meeting since June to revise the Programming section of the 17 year-old policies. Below is a draft of the proposed new policies, hard copies are also available at CCTV. We are seeking input and comments from members. The deadline for providing input is two weeks from now, October 4th at 5 PM. We are asking that comments be made in writing and submitted to the Programming Committee at CCTV, or by email to

Comments will be considered by the committee; the final policies will be released by October 21. Thanks for your attention to this!

By agreement with the City of Cambridge, the community cable channels are administered by CCTV. These channels are considered a public forum*, and are therefore not subject to content regulation by the Federal Communications Commission, 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. The Cambridge resident who provides programming for CCTV's channels by signing the Cablecast Agreement takes personal responsibility for the content of that programming.

Submitting Programming
Time on CCTV's channels is available for programming produced or sponsored by Cambridge residents, as well as designated representatives from Cambridge businesses and organizations. A Single Progam may be sponsored by any resident, business or organization with a valid Cambridge address. 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. For the purposes of these Programming Policies, the term 'program provider' means the Cambridge resident who signs the Cablecast Agreement.

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 to not 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. Please see the Cablecast Agreement for information on formatting requirements.

Program Delivery and Pickup
Programs may be submitted in person during normal CCTV operating hours. Internet submissions are acceptable but arrangements must be made with the Programming Coordinator. Under special circumstances and by permission of the Programming Coordinator only, shows may be mailed to CCTV. A Cablecast Agreement must accompany all submissions of Single programs. Series episodes must be accompanied by a Cablecast Agreement when first submitted. Series episodes must be submitted at least two business days before their scheduled cablecast; exceptions are made 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 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.

Content Responsibility and Liability
The responsibility and liability for program content lies solely with the program provider, that is, the Cambridge resident who 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 web site.

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, or commercial calls to action or inducements to buy
  • Within permitted programming, contact information must be limited to the name of a business. Addresses, phone numbers, and web sites may not be included.
  • Programming that does not have clearances, releases, or other assurances.
  • 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.

Potentially Objectionable Material
Unlike obscene material, potentially objectionable material may be shown on CCTV channels, but CCTV 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:

  • excessive profane language
  • most forms of nudity
  • sexual activity
  • extreme physical violence or degradation
  • 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.Any program provider who violates CCTV's content guidelines or misrepresents the content of a program on the Cablecast Agreement will receive a written warning (see Violations section of these Policies). A second such offense will result in a second written warning and the program will be scheduled between the hours of 11 PM and 5 AM. Scheduling decisions and warnings 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 later than twenty business days after the appeal is submitted. Decisions of the Committee may be appealed by 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, that programming 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 any cable subscriber. 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, nor 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.

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 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.

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.

BeLive and Cambridge Community Radio
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. CCTV staff will attempt to provide a renewing BeLive or CCR program the same time slot, however, this 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 Cambridge Community Radio Agreement will receive a warning (see Violation section of these Policies). A second such offense will result in cancellation of the live program.

A Series consists of at least four new programs with a consistent theme and/or format. 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, this is not guaranteed.

In order to maintain a time slot, a Series program provider must regularly submit new programs. New episodes should be submitted at least two days prior to the cablecast date or by special arrangement with the Programming Coordinator. To meet the requirements of series programming, at least one new episode per month must be submitted. Episodes that have previously played on CCTV channels may be re-submitted only after at least six months have passed 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 that four episodes be submitted with the renewal of a show previously cancelled because episodes were not supplied in a timely manner.

Disclosure of Information
CCTV shall maintain a viewer response line at 661-6900, option 6. Viewers and members of the general public may leave comments for 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.

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.

Bulletin Board
CCTV operates an electronic Community Bulletin Board, which is shown on the channels when no other 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 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 Bulletin Board.
Notices may be submitted by email to, fax to 617-661-6927, or mail to CCTV, 675 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA. 02139.

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.CCTV has a responsibility to provide an open political forum. CCTV considers election programming to commence with certification of candidates for the ballot and 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 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. There shall be no programming relating to a candidate or a ballot issue cablecast on the CCTV channels after Sunday at midnight prior to that election.

CCTV staff will publicize programs in a variety of ways, including listings on the CCTV web site, 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.