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Home > Our City > Other Information > Buffalo Media Outlets > Public Access TV Manual

Public Access TV Manual


It is the mission of the Buffalo Municipal Telecommunications Center to bring to all citizens the ability to communicate their message, to be assisted in the creation and distribution of that message and to be exposed to the workings of the government, which those citizens have duly elected. Furthermore, this mission includes ensuring to elected government official's access to communicate with the citizens of Buffalo in times of emergency, to interact with the public via available technology and to offer information that will affect the general population. Furthermore, this mission includes dissemination of knowledge in the form of classroom training, televised courses and the widest range of educational information that given resources allow.


BMTC shall ensure that no individual is discriminated against with regard to services, information, facilities or program distribution because of race, national origin, sex, age, sexual preference, religion, physical disability, political affiliation, or economic status or the nature of their programming This section of the Rules and Procedures does not guarantee a right to any person or organization to have any program distributed over the channels governed by BMTC.  


Training, Equipment, and Facilities
Eligibility for public access program distribution, equipment use and training courses is limited to residents of the City of Buffalo over the age of 18.
Producers under age 18 must have an adult co-signer in order to use BMTC equipment and facilities; the adult accepts full responsibility for loss or damage of equipment on behalf of the minor.
If the producer is 18 or younger, the adult co-signer must attend an orientation meeting prior to equipment checkout or facilities use.

Channel Time

Public access channel time shall be made available free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis to individuals, organizations, institutions, and groups represented above. Any programming originating outside of the City of Buffalo requires a sponsor (who accepts full responsibility/liability for program content) from within the City of Buffalo and shall have lesser priority than programs produced locally.

 Submitting and Scheduling Access Programs

The producer shall submit a standard application form, which can be obtained through BMTC management.

The applicant will sign a waiver acknowledging that his or her material may be subject to preemption, review and/or rescheduling and agree to abide by the policies set forth in this handbook.

Applications will not be accepted more than 90 days nor less than 14 days in advance of the requested date of communication.

It is in the spirit of public access that viewers are exposed to the most varied programming available. For this reason BMTC management has set, and will review as necessary, programming policies that will adhere to this spirit. BMTC management reserves the right to place any program in time slots that most applicable to BMTC programming policy. Although regard will be given to long-standing producer time slots, no guarantees are given that said time slots will remain unchanged.

Program Proposal

  1. any advertising or material that promotes any commercial product or service or lottery, or programs labeled as "paid political announcements";
  2. material for which the primary purpose is to promote the sale of products or services
  3. programming which identifies any product , service, trademark, or brand name which is not reasonably related to the non-commercial use of such product, service, trademark or brand name within the program
  4. Any material which is intended to defraud the viewer or designed to obtain money by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises.

    e. Any unlawful use of copyrighted material.

    f. Any material that is libelous, slanderous or 
otherwise defamatory of character; or material that is an unlawful invasion of privacy;

    g. Any material that violates state or federal law relating to obscenity. BMTC will be the determining body as to obscenity. Producers with disagreements          may request resolution through use of a grievance procedure.

    h. Any material that violates local, state or federal laws.

Potentially Objectionable Program Content

BMTC requires that producers provide notice to BMTC management in the event that their program contains potentially objectionable content. Potentially objectionable content includes:

    • excessive profane language
    • nudity
    • sexual activity
    • extreme physical violence or degradation
    • graphic depiction of medical procedures

If any program includes any of the aforementioned elements, a viewer advisory will be included immediately prior to the beginning of the program stating:

"The following program contains material that some viewers may find objectionable or inappropriate."

The viewer advisory will be displayed on screen for 30 seconds.

These programs may also be subject to a decision by BMTC management that said program will air only during safe harbor hours.

 Series Programs

The following rules apply to series programs:

Producers must sign a series contract.

Application for a series can be accepted only after the producer has completed and submitted three programs to begin the series.

Series scheduling will be requested in no less than 13-week runs and no more than 26 week runs. A 26-week run may be subdivided into any series formula. For example, if the series airs once per month, the series contract is written for six (6) shows, totaling 24 weeks. A bi-weekly series show will total thirteen shows, cablecast bi-weekly for twenty-six weeks. When the contract expires the slot becomes available on a first-come, first-served basis. Should time go unrequested, the current producer may request a renewal. A series previously aired in one time slot is eligible for re-run scheduling in another requested slot.

Producers who sign a varying length contract are eligible to repeat programs according to the type of contract signed.

Contract A: 13 weeks in duration, may not repeat a program during the initial series run.

Contract B: 26 weeks in duration, may repeat 2 programs during the initial series run.

Repeat programs cannot be aired back to back over the course of any series contract, regardless of contract duration.

BMTC reserves the right to revoke series contracts for a failure to submit a contracted program. Repeat violations may result in suspension of use of BMTC facilities, equipment and/or channel time.

Technical Standards

Programs submitted for cablecast must meet BMTC technical standards. In cases where BMTC finds that a videotape is technically unacceptable for cablecast, staff will return the videotape to the producer and advise on how the problem can be corrected or avoided in the future. BMTC reserves the right to amend the following standards as necessary:

All tapes (face and spine) and boxes must be labeled with the program title, producer information, running time and air date.

The only acceptable videotape format (as of 10/1/2001) is DVCPRO (L).

The head-end of all videotapes must include:
:30 of bars and tone
:10 identification slate including the program title, producer's name, running time and record date
:10 countdown (8 counts, 2 black)

All videotapes must have a minimum of :10 of black burst/control track after the last frame of program.

Program audio must be audible with a minimum noise when amplified, specifically between –20dB and +1 dB with no distortion or peak clipping. Peak audio must be no more than +2dB.

Programs must be no more than a second generation dub with low noise content and no color smearing.

Basic optimum levels are considered –40 units of sync, 7.5 units of black burst and no more than 100 units of video.

There can be no broken track, tracking/skew error or video break-up within a program.

Acknowledgment of Program Sponsors and Program Underwriting Guidelines

An access producer may give credit to an individual, company, or organization that underwrites any of the program's production costs. Credit may be given through the use of titles at the beginning or end of the program that identifies the contributor.

Underwriter acknowledgment is limited to six (6) per program for a 29 minute show and 12 per program for a 59 minute show. These acknowledgments should air prior to the program opening and following the program close. Sponsors should be named only once with no more than 3 acknowledgments at the beginning and 3 additional at the end.

The correct audio format is: "This program (supported/underwritten) by..."

The video portion shall consist of:

  1. A business logo that occupies no more than ¼ of the total screen (or)
  2. A character generated company name
     Sponsorship mentions shall not:
  1. Include a video image of the business exterior

    b.) Include video of person using a product or packaged goods out of the container

    c.) Include calls to action such as "buy, try, consider, or call this or that."

    d.) Include comparative statements, qualitative adjectives or any subjective evaluations, such as "the best pizza."

Use Of Public Access Equipment And Facilities and Rule Violations / Sanctions / Loss Of Privileges

Studio and portable video equipment or production assistance will not be used to record activities, which may be obscene or are commercial in nature.

To ensure that the community access equipment and facilities remain available and in good working order, the following rules have been established. Any access producer or staff member may report rule violations to BMTC management. Upon verifying that a rule violation has occurred, BMTC management will issue a written statement to the producer describing the rule violation and sanctions. Sanctions will become effective immediately upon receipt of this statement.

  1. Rule Violations

Major violations result in immediate suspension from any equipment use, facilities and time slots for a time to be determined by BMTC management. Repeat offenders will have their privileges suspended indefinitely. Where damage or loss to equipment has occurred, suspension is in effect until full compensation is made.

1) Major Violations

a. Failure to submit a program produced with public access equipment and/or facilities for initial cablecast on a BMTC channel.

b. Abuse or vandalism of equipment and facilities;

c. Return of equipment in damaged or unworkable condition, beyond normal wear and tear, or failure to return equipment through intent, negligence, loss or theft.

d. Use of equipment and facilities for a purpose not related to production of a program for public access cablecast.

e. Removal of equipment from the access center without proper checkout procedures and/or without signing an Equipment Loan Form.

f. Reserving or checking out equipment or facilities for use by a non-certified producer or a producer on suspension.

g. Breach of any of the warranties of the Producer Contract.

h. Unauthorized attempted equipment maintenance or disassembly.

i. Eating, drinking, smoking or use of alcohol or controlled substances within any access facility;

j. A community producer who represents himself or herself as "staff";

k. Threatening and/or verbally abusing staff, volunteers, or users at the BMTC facilities, including conduct or disruptive behavior such as yelling at, using profanity to, or attempting to intimidate staff, volunteers, or users, or deliberately sabotaging any project;

l. Submitting a program with potentially objectionable content without alerting BMTC management.

m. Unauthorized equipment use by non-certified crew.

2) Minor Violations

Minor violations will result in the following actions:

A written warning for the first minor violation

Final written warning for the second minor violation

Suspension from use of equipment and facilities for the third minor violation

These include:

a. Failure to cancel an equipment or facilities reservation prior to the reservation time.

b. Late return of equipment, without an extension authorized by a staff member;

c. Failure to vacate studio or editing facilities when the next scheduled producer has arrived.

d. Return of dirty equipment.

e. Leaving trash or debris in studio or editing facilities.

f. Operation of equipment or use of facilities in an incorrect, unsafe, or inappropriate manner that might result in damage, including leaving doors to the facility open or leaving props and/or furniture in inappropriate or unsafe places within the facility;

g. Improper packaging of equipment for transport;

h. Tardiness in excess of 15 minutes in claiming reserved equipment or facilities without an extension authorized by a staff member.

i. Reserving or checking out equipment for another producer unless specified and approved in advance.

j. Canceling equipment or facilities reservations, without providing at least 48 hours notice more than 1 time within a calendar month.

k. Unauthorized use of other producer's props and equipment.

Equipment Damage and Loss

    • If equipment is damaged or lost while under contract to an access producer, the producer will have equipment privileges suspended until full compensation is made or financial arrangements made with BMTC management. In the event that a producer fails to meet the terms of repayment, the producer shall be suspended from all equipment and facilities privileges

Orientation Meetings

    • To make current and potential access producers aware of the public access mission and the availability of production equipment and facilities, policy and procedures, BMTC will conduct orientations. Attendance at an orientation will be required prior to the granting of certification as a producer.
    • All certified producers names will be kept on file by BMTC with additional information as is deemed necessary to meet legal and organizational requirements. The producer file will include acknowledgment of the equipment and production facilities for which that producer has been certified.

 Producer Contract and Equipment Loan Form

    • The access producer is required to complete a Producer Contract and if necessary, an equipment loan form before using BMTC equipment or facilities. In signing the forms, the producer agrees to indemnify BMTC for all damage to or loss of any public access equipment or facilities caused by neglect, abuse, theft, or other causes that occur while such equipment and facilities are assigned to the producer. The producer is personally and financially responsible for the borrowed equipment and may be legally and financially responsible for repair or replacement of the equipment. The producer signing the Equipment Loan Form and the certified crew members are the only persons authorized to operate the equipment.

Producer liability

    • The producer agrees to indemnify, defend and hold harmless BMTC, the City of Buffalo, Adelphia Cable, their agents and employees from any and all suits, claims, demands, liabilities, costs and expenses, including reasonable counsel fees arising out of invasion of privacy, infringement of copyright, unauthorized use of a service or trademark or violation of Federal, State, County or Municipal law as a result of use of BMTC equipment.

Canceling a Reservation

    • Producers who have reserved equipment or facilities they cannot use are asked to notify staff as soon as possible so that these resources may be reassigned to other producers. Notification of any cancellation is required prior to the reservation time. BMTC reserves the right to establish policy with regard to abuse of the equipment reservation procedures. Please call 881-930 to cancel a reservation.

Videotape Provisions

    • Access producers must provide their own videotape stock in the acceptable format.

Eating/Drinking/Smoking in Facilities

    • Smoking, alcoholic beverages and controlled substances are not allowed within any of the access facilities. No food or drink is allowed in any control room or editing suite.

Any access producer is required to submit for approval a program proposal to the designated staff member(s).

The program proposal shall be submitted on a form/format provided by BMTC

A stand-by program is a production intended for an unspecified time slot, scheduled as a single presentation with no implication that the program is a part of a series.

A series program is an on-going weekly program for a specific length of time. Series may be submitted for no less than 13 weeks and is limited to 26 weeks duration.

Application procedures:

A producer is limited to submitting no more than two (2) programs per week for scheduling of cablecast time

Programs must be no longer that 29 minutes in length for a :30 minute program nor longer than 59 minutes in length for a 60-minute program.

Producer Contract and Certification Form

Any program submitted for scheduling must be accompanied by a signed Producer Contract and Compliance Form. Any minor must have an adult co-signer. The party signing the Contract assumes liability for program content and warrants that the program does not contain any of the following: