Become a Member
Producer's Handbook And Policy Guidelines
Public, Education and Government
Cable Television Access for Billings
PRODUCER'S HANDBOOK AND POLICY GUIDELINES
Billings Community Cable Corporation
A Nonprofit Organization
The Lincoln Center
415 North 30th
Billings, Montana 59101
Operations Manager, Tim Harrington
Table of Contents
2. Mission Statement
4. First Amendment Rights
1. Individual Membership
2. Nonprofit Organization Membership
3. Corporate Membership
4. Major Sponsors
6. Membership Renewal
PROGRAM OWNERSHIP AND DISTRIBUTION
1. Hours of Operation
2. Training and Orientation
4. Video Format
5. Scheduling Studio Time
6. Scheduling Broadcast Time
7. Submission of Tapes for Broadcast
8. Pre-empting Regularly Scheduled Programming
9. Public Complaints about Programming
10. Program Contracts
11. Labeling Tapes for Submission for Cablecast
12. Retrieving Tapes after Cablecasting
13. Use of Community Seven Equipment
14. Right to Refuse Service
15. Amendment of Rules and Procedures
16. Grievance and Appeals
17. Satellite Downlinks and Broadcasts
18. On-Site Production Guidelines
PROGRAM OWNERSHIP AND DISTRIBUTION
1. Producer Ownership/Copyright
3. Staff Productions
4. Cablecasting Scheduling Priorities
5. Promotional Use
6. Underwriting Guidelines
1. The Importance of Volunteers
2. Caring for the Equipment
3. Running Cameras
PUBLIC SERVICES OFFERED BY BILLINGS COMMUNITY CABLE CORPORATION
1. The Community Calendar
2. The Interactive Channel 8
3. Borrowing Community Seven Equipment
4. Video Copies (Dubs) and Fees
Public Access Cable Television:
Building Community through Communication.
The 1984 and 1992 Cable Acts and Telecommunications Act of 1996 gave cities the right to negotiate franchise fees with their local cable companies that contains a provision for the creation of a local public access cable channel. The Billings Community Cable Corporation (BCCC) was founded in 1989 with the help of community volunteers in partnership with the City of Billings, School District 2, Montana State University - Billings, Billings Clinic and St. Vincent Healthcare. BCCC is recognized by the State of Montana as a nonprofit organization governed by a local board of directors on a volunteer basis.
To offer diverse and stimulating programming in the public interest and to support and promote the economy and quality of life in this area by providing educational and informational programming.
The Billings Community Cable Corporation is an important thread in the fabric of the Billings Community. At Community Seven, we support three basic types of television access: Public, Education and Government.
Government access brings City Council Meetings, County Commissioner Meetings and other aspects of public life directly into the homes of approximately 28,500 cable viewers. Our local candidate forums provide an in-depth discussion of the issues that affect all of us whom live and work in the Greater Billings area.
Billings School District 2 is an important partner in providing education-oriented programming. School Board meetings are cablecast in their entirety to keep the public abreast of important issues concerning public education. School District 2 regularly features interviews and other programming that explores education issues. Montana State University - Billings is also a major sponsor and supports regularly scheduled programs for public outreach.
BCCC's primary source of funding is a percentage of the franchise fee paid by Bresnan Communications to the City of Billings. Yellowstone County and School District 2 are major contributors to BCCC and the remaining funding comes from members and sponsors throughout the community.
Public Access provides the most diverse and unique programming in the Billings community. Individuals and nonprofit organizations offer a wide array of cablecasts covering religious issues, the arts, humanities and the exercise of free speech. Cable access is the embodiment of democratic values so essential to maintaining a free society.
The Billings Community Cable Corporation is funded in part by a percentage of franchise fees paid to the City of Billings through Bresnan Communications, the local cable provider. Since franchise fees are paid by the public, it makes good sense to use a portion of those fees to provide public access. Cable access stations are an important part of public life in cities across the United States. The amount of financial support varies widely, with some communities dedicating 100% of their access fees to maintaining a publicly accessible facility.
Billings Community Cable Corporation is a non-profit organization funded in part by a portion of the cable franchise fees paid to the City of Billings. Community Seven equipment and facilities will be made available on a first-come, first-served basis to public and private organizations, institutions and private citizens located in our community. Programming produced in other communities may be aired on Community Seven only with a local sponsor.
No person will be denied training or use of the facilities based on race, sex, religion, political affiliation, age, creed, color, national origin or ancestry, sexual orientation, or disability.
1.4 First Amendment Rights
Freedom of speech, as provided for in the United States Constitution, is vital to maintaining a free society. Essential to this is the ability to see, hear, and express different ideas and viewpoints.
The Billings Community Corporation upholds these rights and adheres to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines which restrict programs with mature themes and content to hours after 10:00pm. The Board of Directors for the Billings Community Cable Corporation (BCCC) has established a late nighttime period for mature programming beginning at 11:00 pm.
Every individual holds beliefs and values which may at times be in conflict with those of others. Public access television allows for this diversity of viewpoints and local voices.
The Producer assumes full responsibility for program content and the process by which proposed programs are produced. She/he agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Billings Community Cable Corporation, as per the contract agreement signed by the responsible producer as a condition of BCCC membership.
Programs submitted for cablecast will be within the terms of the program contract which must be signed by all members. The party signing the contract assumes liability for program content and warrants that the program contains none of the following:
1. any advertising or material that promotes any commercial product or service or lottery;
2. any unlawful use of copyrighted material;
3. any material that is libelous, slanderous, defamatory, or material that is an unlawful invasion of privacy;
4. any material that violates state or federal law relating to obscenity;
5. any solicitation or appeal for funds;
6. any material that violates local, state or federal laws.
Programmers need to be aware that Section 639 of the Federal Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 provides that:
"Whomever transmits over any cable system any matter which is obscene or otherwise unprotected by the Constitution of the United States shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than 2 years or both."
Programs with controversial content will be asked to include a program disclaimer such as""The views expressed in this program are the responsibility of the program producer and do not necessarily represent the Billings Community Cable Corporation," or " The following program may contain material that is not suitable for younger viewers. Viewer discretion is advised." These disclaimers can be obtained on tape at the Community Seven for those who produce their programs off the premises.
Disclaimers should be displayed at the beginning and the end of the program for 15 to 25 seconds.
Program producer must provide written authorization for cable television transmission of any copyrighted program or other copyrighted materials.
Community Cable policies are a means of optimizing staff, resources and access to as many programmers as possible. We welcome your input. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please discuss them with us. We are always looking to improve our services and the quality of the programming offered.
All memberships are annual. A member residing in the Greater Billings area must originate all Community Seven programming.
2.1 Non - Affiliated Membership (individuals and small groups)
$50 suggested membership dues. Membership includes training and orientation.
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May produce and air 2 half-hour programs each month. Individual members are responsible for recruiting friends, family members or others as volunteer crew members for their programs. Minimum required is one person to operate the camera. Training on camera operation, character generator operation, technical direction and orientation will be provided at no extra expense for all persons involved the production of that program. Contact the Community Seven office for the time and date of the next available training session after becoming a member.
If non-local, pre-produced programs are going to be submitted for cablecast, these would fall under the nonprofit and corporate membership categories. All non-locally produced programming must be submitted by a local sponsor.
2.2 Non-Profit Organization
$200 Membership dues. May produce and air 2 half-hour programs each month. Non-profits may extend programming to a weekly basis for an annual contribution of $200. Non-local, pre-produced tapes submitted by a local individual may qualify for the nonprofit rate, otherwise the corporate rate will apply.
2.3 Corporate Membership
$400 and above. May produce and air 2 half-hour programs each month. Programs may not be commercial in nature, but your sponsorship will be noted on air, at the beginning and ending of each broadcast. Corporate members are encouraged to consider the degree of studio time, equipment use and staff involvement in production when determining the amount of their contribution.
2.4 Major Sponsors
$500. and above. May produce and air programs in the public interest that may exceed normal time allotments, i.e., school board meetings, commissioner meetings, city council, health care, etc. Major sponsors are encouraged to consider the degree of studio time, equipment use and staff involvement in production when determining the amount of their contribution.
Young people under the age of eighteen may become members of Community Seven, provided a parent is willing to sign the Program Contract agreement.
2.6 Membership Renewal
Community Seven will notify producers when their contract date is up for the year and is due to be renewed. Volunteer crew members or host persons are not required to be Community Seven members, but it is strongly encouraged. Only current Community Seven members are allowed to serve as program producers or can submit programs to air on the channel.
3. USE OF FACILITIES AND EQUIPMENT
The Billings Community Cable Corporation facilities and equipment exist to provide noncommercial programming to be cablecast on Bresnan Cable channels 7 and 8. These programs are not intended for commercial purposes or the solicitation of funds. Community Seven programs may, however, be used as supporting documentation for grant and employment applications.
3.1 Hours of Operation
Community Seven office hours are:
8:30am to 5:30 pm Monday thru Friday
Studio hours are more restricted due to School Board, County Commissioner and City Council meetings, which demand staff time. Please call the office to schedule studio time, which is available on a first come, first served basis.
3.2 Training and Orientation
Training and Orientation Sessions are conducted by staff. Please check with the Community Seven office to schedule a training session.
Programmers are expected to bring a volunteer to operate the camera. A training and orientation session for programmers and volunteers will be provided weekly by the BCCC staff at no extra cost.
Pre-produced programs should be submitted on DVD-R Video Disc or SVHS tape format. DVD's should not have interactive menus and the first Title and Chapter on the Disc needs to be the program to be cablecast. If there are color bars and black at the beginning of the program, the Producer needs to note the length of lead in time before the program starts. All DVD discs, tapes and cases must be labeled and contain an accurate running length of the program.
3.4 Scheduling Studio Time
Members are allotted one-hour studio time for each 1/2 hour program. The Community Seven studios are open during normal business hours for scheduling.
Due to the limited number of time slots available, studio time is available by appointment only. Regular studio or editing room times will be reserved for programmers with the understanding it is their responsibility to give 24 hours notice of cancellation. Programmers who fail to show or give notice for studio time two sessions in a row may lose their regularly scheduled studio time and their on-air broadcast slot to another program on the waiting list.
It is requested that producers make every attempt to leave the studio as they found it and take care of any refuse that results from their use of the studio.
3.5 Scheduling Broadcast Time
The first submitted program must be accompanied by a signed Program Contract and should be delivered to the Community Seven office three weeks prior to first desired cablecast date, unless special arrangements are made with staff. Program must meet technical requirements and be labeled.
The BCCC staff and board of directors reserve the right to schedule controversial programming in a discretionary time slot and/or use disclaimers during cablecasting.
We reserve the right to refuse service to any person whose actions hinder activities related to Community Seven. BCCC also reserves the right to deny access to programming which it considers defamatory or prejudicial toward the religion, sex, race, age, disability, or ethnic origin of any person or group in the community. Producers may appeal any service or program rejection by making a written statement to the BCCC Board of Directors.
Final decision regarding specific cablecast times are made by Community Seven Staff as per Community Seven policy and procedures.
3.6 Submission of DVD's or tapes for broadcast
After the tape has been completed and labeled the producer needs to enter that tape in "The Red Book." The Red Book is what staff refers to when loading tapes into sequence for cablecasting. Careful recording of the tape's recording date and title will ensure that the correct tape will air at the correct time.
All programs submitted must meet minimum production values for image and sound quality before qualifying for broadcast.
3.7 Pre-empting of Regularly Scheduled Programming
Community Seven reserves the right to reschedule any programs in order to broadcast live news-oriented or public affairs broadcasts. Members whose programs are pre-empted for this reason will be recognized during such broadcasts and assigned another time slot.
3.8 Public Complaints about Programming
The Billings Community Cable Corporation is not responsible in any way for the content of programming provided by members. However, Community Seven staff will document program content complaints and communicate viewer response to the program producer.
The Director will review of the program involved and determine whether or not the program violates the terms of the programmer's contract with BCCC and should be referred to the County Attorney for prosecution.
In the event that Community Seven receives a complaint which indicates that the program may be in violation of its contract, the producer must agree to postpone playback until staff can verify contract compliance. Subsequent play of the program in question will be postponed until compliance with the Program Contract can be verified.
3.9 Program Contracts
Program Contracts must be filled out and submitted to Community Seven three weeks before the first desired cablecast date unless special arrangements are made with staff. Please read program contracts carefully before signing.
3.10 Labeling Tapes and DVD's for Submission for Cablecast
Submitted program must meet technical requirements and be adequately labeled with: member name, program title, time/length of program, date recorded, and, if applicable, broadcast date/s.
3.11 Retrieving Tapes and DVD's after Cablecasting
Community Seven will not be responsible for tapes/DVDs left over two weeks after the cablecast date.
3.12 Right to Refuse Service
Community Seven staff reserves the right to refuse services to any person whose actions hinder the activities of staff or producers. People who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be denied access to equipment and facilities, and may be asked to leave the access facility or site.
3.13 Amendment of Rules and Procedures
Recommended changes or amendments to these rules and procedures may be submitted in writing to the Community Seven board of directors for their consideration at any time.
3.14 Grievance and Appeals Procedures
Any decision by Community Seven staff can be appealed, first to the Executive Director. If the issue remains unresolved, further appeal can be taken in writing to the Community Seven board of directors.
3.15 Satellite Downlinks and Broadcasts
The downlinking of satellite programming and broadcast over channels seven or eight is provided as a separate service to nonprofit organizations that are members of Community Seven, on a space available, first come - first served basis. During the week, satellite downlinks can be provided for $25 per hour. On weekends, when staff is not normally on duty, there is an extra flat fee of $25 per day of broadcast.
4. PROGRAM OWNERSHIP/DISTRIBUTION
4.1 Producer Ownership/Copyright
Producers retain ownership of the creative rights to the programs they produce and may register and establish a copyright at their discretion. Community Seven agrees not to reproduce any program cablecast without the signed permission of the producer to do so on the Program Contract, or with permission on a case by case basis.
Programs produced with Community Seven equipment and facilities are intended for cablecast on Community Seven and may not be used for commercial purposes or the solicitation of funds.
4.3 Staff Productions
Community Seven staff may provide partial or complete production support for a limited number of programs which offer diverse and stimulating programming in the public interest, promote the local economy and or support the use of access television.
4.4 Cablecast Scheduling Priorities
In scheduling programs for Community Seven, first priority is given to locally-produced programs and nonprofit organizations. Second priority is given to programs that are produced elsewhere but have a sponsor from the TV-Seven viewing area. New Programs have priority over repeat showings of either individual or series programs. Live programs are given special consideration in scheduling priority.
Any series program is subject to displacement and rescheduling without notice to accommodate the cablecast of live news events, public affairs programs, coverage of community events or other one-time special programming. Community Seven's agreement with the City of Billings requires the channel to be utilized at any time to assist with local disaster and emergency response efforts. Rescheduling of displaced programs will be negotiated on a case by case basis.
Original programs will always have priority over repeat broadcasts. Producers who fail to submit original programming for any reason on a repeated basis are subject to forfeiting their on air cablecast slot on future program schedules.
All original programs submitted in accordance with Community Seven guidelines are entitled to a half-hour time slot in the prime-time schedule. Some programs with the support of program underwriters, are allowed a secondary cablecast to occur at a non-prime time slot, in addition to the prime-time slot reserved for the program.
4.5 Promotional Use
Programs produced using Community Seven facilities or equipment may be used in part or in full for non-commercial purposes to promote Community Seven.
4.6 Local Television Underwriting Guidelines
I. Underwriting Credit Information
A. Credit Introduction
"Funding for Local Broadcast of (***) has been provided by ____.
B. Credit Length: All television underwriting credits cannot be longer than 15 seconds or 15 words in length for an exclusive underwriter, and :10 seconds for a shared underwriting credit.
C. Credit Content: Underwriting credits must name the donor in mission -statement terminology that is neither commercial nor promotional in language. The business or service may be described in value-neutral terms that avoid comparative or qualitative claims. Underwriting credits are to recognize Underwriters only, and no other outside organization or nonprofit.
II. Video Guidelines
A. The use of corporate logos, still or animated is appropriate
B. Up to three products may be shown on screen. Products cannot be shown in use or in motion and must be shown in a setting that is plausible, appropriate and value-neutral.
C. Showing the outside of a business is acceptable if the building is the only representation of an underwriters product. No more than three locations can be listed in a credit.
III. The Following Are Strictly Forbidden By The FCC.
A. Any solicitation of direct consumer response of any kind, or any call-to-action, whether direct or implied.
B. Superlative description or qualitative claims about the company, its products or services. Any comparison with other companies, or with other company's product or service, whether direct or implied.
C. Price or value information of any kind.
D. Any inducements to buy, sell, rent, or lease.
E. Use of official spokespersons, endorsements, or professional talent that is featured in commercial promotion or the business or product.
F. Use of personal pronouns in an underwriting credit.
G. Sound effects intended to promote or depict a product in use.
H. Licenses music. Individual producers must have a license or written permission to use licensed music in any programming that appears on Community Seven. This does not preclude use of musical signatures that are part of a company's corporate identity, provide the signature is not an advertising jingle.
5.1 The Importance of Volunteers
Thank you for considering being a volunteer for Community Seven. As a nonprofit organization, the efforts of volunteers are essential to the day to day operations of the station. These valuable in-kind donations of time assist us in offering public programming that would not be possible otherwise. We are always looking to increase our pool of volunteers, particularly those who would be willing to operate camcorders for public events.
5.2 Caring for the Equipment
One of the greatest expenses Community Seven endures is the cost and maintenance of equipment. Do not leave a camera on a tripod unless you are certain it is steady. Do not step on audio or video cables. Try to make sure connectors are not being yanked.
5.3 Running Cameras
Be aware when your camera is live and look for interesting shots to fill in when it is not live-or-clear. The decision of the director is final. Follow all direction quickly and efficiently. Watch your TV monitor to confirm your camera can be moved. What is said over the radios can sometimes be heard by those around you so try to keep the volume as low as possible to avoid annoying others. Anyone with a scanner can pick up the radio conversations: keep it clean. When taking a break before, during, or after a program, keep the radio and headset on - the director may have important information to relay.
When the shooting stops, carefully coil video and audio cables and put equipment back in its cases. Make certain the equipment is left in a secure place. If batteries for cameras or radios need to be recharged, make sure to tell someone, label them or take them back to the studios yourself. Pick up your space and be sure to remove and throw away all black gaffers tape used for the production.
6. PUBLIC SERVICES OFFERED BY BILLINGS COMMUNITY CABLE CORPORATION
6.1 Community Calendar
The community calendar is maintained as a public service. All calendar postings are subject to editing by BCCC staff for space and brevity. Events listings must be submitted in writing.
6.2 Channel 8
Channel 8 currently provides "Classic Arts Showcase." Along with arts programming, the channel also provides overflow airspace for Community Seven, other satellite downlink programming, NASA and the Montana Legislature while in session.
6.3 Video Copies (Dubs) and Fees
Copies can be made of tapes submitted to Community Seven for a fee of $25, which includes the blank tape or DVD. Or, if a blank tape or DVD is supplied, the dubbing fee is $22. These fees must be paid in advance. A fee of $5.00 will be included for shipping and handling if dubs are to be mailed. Community Seven will not make copies of any program without the permission of the producer.