Public access cable policies are adopted

By Seth Schmidt

A formal policy for submissions to the City of Tracy’s cable access channel  has taken shape.
The new policy, adopted by the Tracy City Council on March 27, outlines what types of programming and announcements are acceptable, and lists procedures for submitting materials.  The policies were developed, in part, because of new cable broadcast equipment and software installed at City Hall late last year, offers enhanced broadcast capabilities.
A resolution passed by the council state that the intent of the cable access channel is to “provide a non-commercial opportunity to inform the public of the city’s activities and matters of public interest and to present a wide range of programming.”
City Administrator Madonna Peterson explains that programs submitted for broadcasts could include church services, school events, concerts, and community events, such as a parade.  Personal events, such as a funny cat video or a child’s birthday party, would not be accepted for the public access channel.
The site cannot be used for promoting commercial activities or the advocacy of political candidates.  The city policy states that “advertising material promoting the sale of commercial products or services” and “advertising by or on the behalf of candidates for public office” will be prohibited from the public access channel.  Also prohibited is “material directly or indirectly containing a lottery or lottery information” and “materials which are obscene or indecent.”
The resolution also states that the public access channel “may not be used for illegal purposes” and that “users are responsible for being aware of the applicable state and federal law.”  Those submitting material for the channel will be required to complete and sign forms to acknowledging responsibility for program content.”
The ability to broadcast programming on the city’s public access channel is not new. The United Methodist Church of Tracy has broadcast its weekly church services for years.  Robert Gervais, the city’s former EDA director, used to put some materials on the channel.  But Peterson said that since Gervais left the city work force several years ago, no other city employee has regularly put items on the channel.
The old system, allowed an individual to walk into the city council meeting room, turn on the equipment, and insert a DVD to activate a broadcast.  Under the new system, city employees will always handle the materials submitted for broadcasts.
The new equipment offers better quality than the old system.

Covering expenses
Fees have been set to cover the city’s expenses.
A $10 setup fee is required for all cablecast submissions. Submitted video must be on a DVD or MP4 format.
Individuals and organizations can also apply for a yearlong programming fee for $100, which would be good for unlimited show requests and event announcements.  An example of this would be a church that broadcasts weekly services year around.
Broadcast times are reserved on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Bulletin board
The city’s new policies also include announcements put on the public access channel’s carousel bulletin board.  Announcements must be limited to seven, 30-character rows.  Any logos, artwork, or photos must be in JPEG or PNG form.
A $10 fee is charged for each announcement.
Users must sign a form stating that the City of Tracy is not responsible for errors that appear in the announcements, and “hold harmless the City of Tracy, its elected and appointed officials, the Tracy channel and their agents from any liability or legal fees and expenses …”
Message requests are to be submitted 14 days prior to the desire starting date.