Produce Your Own TV Show On Public Access TV

And Take an Inexpensive Video Course

Excerpted From Marketing With Digital Video by Hal Landen

Public access stations are created when a cable company negotiates a franchise agreement with a local government. Not all franchise agreements include these public access channels. Some have access channels just for local governments where you can watch town meetings and other government functions.

Others are educational e.g. a school district with its own channel. Another kind is local origination, where the cable company serves the community by producing local news and sports shows. The public access channels, sometimes called Community TV, are the kind which allow citizens to produce and broadcast their own shows.

The mission of these public access channels is to encourage the widest spectrum of local programming and to provide ordinary citizens with access to the tools for producing this programming. These channels can be a great resource. For instance, the New York Staten Island Community TV channel offers a 20 hour video production course for $60 that’s open to anyone in Staten Island. You won’t find a better price anywhere. In addition, they offer studio or location production and editing packages.

Each community has it’s own rules about what can air and what can’t, but most require that the programs be non-commercial. According to Lance Armstrong, the Outreach Director at for Staten Island Community TV, a business could produce an informational show about their industry as long it’s not a sales program. Ask your own access channel about their requirements.

There are over 1000 public access stations across the country. You can find a list of Public Access Stations here or call your local Cable TV company. If your town does not have a public access channel, look into other nearby cable systems. The residency requirements are not always carved in stone. Sometimes all you need is a local resident to sponsor you. You’ll find that the public access people try hard to be accommodating.

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9 thoughts on “Produce Your Own TV Show On Public Access TV

  1. Roz

    Does a sponsor for public access TV

    need insurance protection (liability Ins)?

    Also, do you need a license to sing religious

    karaoke songs on public access TV

    Thank you for your reply

    1. Hal

      Hi Rosalyn,

      These are both questions you should ask your local public access station. They control what happens
      at their station. They make the rules you will have to abide by.


  2. RAy

    I have two quick questions. I live in a town where Cox Cable provides a Educational Channel and a Government Channel, but no Public access Channels. Do you have any suggestions how I can persuade cox to create a public access Channel. I am in the process of obtaining funding for equipment, but I have nowhere to broadcast it. Second question. Prism has now started a network in my city. Do they have to follow the same FCC guidelines and provide a Public Access channel? Thank you so much for your time

    1. Hal

      I would gather some like-minded people who’d also like to see a public access channel. Ask at your town hall who would be the right person to talk with about this and tell them you have a group of people who’d like to have a public access channel. You might want to approach Cox first and see what they say. As I understand it, the town and the cable provider make a deal on whether to have a public access channel.

      As far as Prism, I’d ask your town officials about that. Just asking may propel it forward. In either case, you’ll have to be proactive and help make it happen. It’s probably within your power to do so.

      Let us know what happens.

      Good luck.

  3. Rick

    Who owns the rights to programming shot in a public access studio?

    Can I as a producer sell my content if I produce it at a public access studio?

    Or can I rent the pa studios to produce my content for main stream distribution?


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