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Programming

 

By agreement with the Town of Easton, the community cable channels are administered by ECAT. These channels are provided as a public forum for solely noncommercial speech and are therefore not subject to content regulation by ECAT, the Town of Easton, or the cable operator. ECAT is content neutral and any content that is considered protected speech under the First Amendment of the US Constitution is permissible on ECAT’s channels. Reference to a Community Producer is to indicate a local resident producing programs with ECAT equipment or facilities. Reference to a Local Sponsor refers to an Easton resident who is taking legal responsibility for the cablecasting of either a locally-produced program or a program produced elsewhere.  ECAT retains the right to preempt programming at any time in order to provide timely local programming, such as live or taped special municipal events, important local debates/forums, election-related programming, satellite downlinking, or other local events of general interest to the Easton community for which time is of the essence (Example: The unscheduled appearance of a local school team in a championship final match). Furthermore, ECAT may place a higher priority on access to limited channel cablecast time for programming for and about Easton or by a Easton resident, against programming on more general or wider topics, or that produced outside of Easton. The Easton resident who provides programming for ECAT’s channels takes personal responsibility for the content of that programming by signing the Cablecast Agreement.

A. Submission of Programming

In order to cablecast any programming, one must be an ECAT member in good standing, or an Easton resident,and submit the completed paperwork along with disc or file metadata and appropriate releases and clearances. Community Producers on the access channels are fully responsible for the content of their program material, and must have signed an acknowledgement of responsibility.

A Playback Request Form for Series or Single programs must accompany media submitted for cablecast. This Playback Request Form functions as a contract between the program provider and ECAT. Series Playback Request Forms must be resubmitted once per calendar year as long as the series is active. Formatting and labeling requirements are detailed on the Playback Request Form.

ECAT staff has the right not to 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 (see section 2-P).

B. Program Delivery and Pickup

Programs on disc may be submitted in person during normal ECAT operating hours. Internet submissions are acceptable, however, arrangements must be made with the staff. Under special circumstances and only by permission of the ECAT staff, shows may be mailed to ECAT. A Playback Request Form must accompany all submissions of Single programs. The first episode in a Series must be submitted with a signed Playback Request Form. All subsequent Series episodes must be submitted at least 48 hours (2 business days) before their scheduled cablecast. Exceptions may be made only at the discretion of ECAT 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 ECAT for over a month after the last scheduled play date becomes property of ECAT. ECAT is not responsible for media lost, stolen, broken, or erased while on the premises.

C. Content Responsibility, Ownership and Liability

  1. The community producer is holder of the copyright of their program.

  2. In addition, all productions that utilize ECAT equipment and/or are disseminated through ECAT channels are designated with a Creative Commons Attribution, Noncommercial, Share-Alike License.  All ECAT producers including those who did not use ECAT equipment have the option of selecting the "No Derivatives" option, which prevents anyone from building upon your work, using excerpts or segments, remixing, or any other derivative uses of your work. 

  3. ECAT retains the right of first distribution for all programs produced using ECAT equipment. (Cable subscribers pay for ECAT, so they have the right to see the programs first.)

  4. ECAT has the right to maintain a copy of any program in its archive to cablecast an unlimited number of times.

  5. ECAT has the right to use any program for promotional purposes related to ECAT.

  6. Community producers that make a for-fee or commercial use of a program produced for cablecast on an ECAT channel shall be required to remit 20% of all royalties resulting from said project to ECAT.

  7. Any exceptions to the above shall be determined solely by the Executive Director on a case-by-case basis.

The responsibility and liability for program content lies solely with the program provider, that is, the Easton resident or Easton business or organization whose designated representative signs the Playback Request Form. ECAT, the cable operator, and the Town of Easton 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. ECAT, the Town of Easton, and the cable operator are not responsible for the content of the programming shown on the community cable channels or on ECAT’s website.

D. Programming Restrictions
Presentation of the following is prohibited:

  • Any commercial advertising or programming including:
    - promotion of the sale of any service or product
    - price information
    - commercial calls to action or inducements to buy
    - within permitted programming, contact information must be limited to the name of an individual, business or organization.
    Addresses, phone numbers, and websites may not be included.

  • Programming that does not have clearances, releases, or other assurances from copyright holders and/or those appearing in the production

  • Programming that falls below minimal technical standards for cablecast. Please see
    the Playback Request Form for information on formatting requirements.

  • Programming that does not fall under constitutionally protected speech and raises serious risk of liability on the part of ECAT. 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.

E. Potentially Objectionable Material

Unlike obscene material, potentially objectionable material may be shown on ECAT’s channels, but ECAT’s 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 Playback Request Form to indicate on that Agreement whether or not a program includes potentially objectionable material.

Potentially objectionable material may include, but is not limited to:

  • strong coarse language, intensely suggestive dialogue, or coarse indecent language

  • intense sexual situations or explicit sexual activity

  • intense or graphic physical violence or degradation

  • most forms of nudity

  • graphic depiction of medical procedures

Note: Any program provider who violates ECAT’s content guidelines or misrepresents the content of a program on the Playback Request Form will receive a written Notice of Violation (see Section Six ~ Violations of Policy). A second such offense will result in a second written Notice of Violation and the program will be scheduled between the hours of 11 PM and 5 AM. Scheduling decisions and Notices of Violation for programming infractions may be appealed to ECAT’s Programming and Policies Committee, consisting of representatives from the ECAT 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 more than twenty business days after the appeal is submitted. Decisions of the Committee may be appealed to 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, the program in question will be shown between 11 PM and 5 AM.

ECAT 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 ECAT staff, may be objectionable to cable subscribers. 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 ECAT, the Town of Easton or 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.

F. Scheduling

ECAT 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. ECAT staff will 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 within 7 days of submission.  Program providers will be notified of their time slots the first time the program is broadcast on ECAT. 
It is the responsibility of the community producer to submit a program no less than 48 hours (2 business days) before its scheduled airtime.

Requests for program time will be honored within the constraints of scheduling as well as staff and equipment availability. Producers are encouraged to rerun programs at other time slots, and will be permitted up to a maximum of 5 showings of an episode in any one week.  These three program repeat routines are designed to be flexible for use by the producer.  Prime time shall be defined as any time between the hours of 5:00pm and 10:30pm daily. An individual may be limited to one (1) prime time opportunity, per show, per week, depending on scheduling demands, but every episode submitted shall be scheduled for at least one prime time slot. Only the producer may request that an episode not be scheduled at least once during prime time.

G. Scheduling Priorities

When scheduling ECAT’s channels, first priority is given to programs produced by ECAT Members. Second priority is given to programs produced by Easton residents who are not ECAT 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. ECAT reserves the right to pre-empt all programs for live or special event coverage.

All programming schedule decisions by ECAT staff are final.  Viewers may contact the Programming Director to request that programming be repeated and ECAT staff will, to the best of its ability, try to satisfy such requests. At the discretion of the Programming Director, the program provider responsible for the program may be notified of the repeat.

H. Live / Live Remote Programming

Live Shows

A Live slot may be requested by Access Members by submitting a Live Agreement Form, which includes all of the rules and procedures related to Live programming and indicates that the program provider consents to these rules and procedures. ECAT staff will set up a training session with the producer prior to scheduling a slot.  Live programs are subject to the same restrictions as other programming on ECAT’s channels. However, due to the time slots available for the production of live programming, potentially objectionable content is prohibited during Live slots. Any Individual or Organizational Access member  producer who violates ECAT’s content guidelines or misrepresents the content of a program on Live Agreement Form will receive a Notice of Violation.  A second such offense will result in cancellation of the live program.

Live Show Call-In Policy

  • All calls must be answered "off-air" so that the producer may obtain the caller's name and telephone number

  • For a call to be taken live on ECAT, the producer or designated phone operator must call back the individual who wishes to talk on the program

  • Producers must maintain a log of names and telephone numbers of individuals who are call-in participants. Caller names and numbers remain confidential to producer, except as otherwise may be required by a court order or legal action.

 

The Board of Directors of ECAT is concerned regarding "anonymous" or unidentified callers, especially regarding issues of libel, slander, obscenity, or threats to public and personal safety. Nothing in this policy is designed to censor or thwart commentary, even anonymous commentary, but rather is a precaution should any actual instance of FCC-prohibited content occur.

Live Remote Programming

  • Requests for live remote programming require much coordination with ECAT, other producers whose programs are already scheduled, and the staff. Hence, requests for live programs must be made 6 weeks prior to the event.

  • Exact information about date, time, location and the nature of the event must be provided.

  • An individual Access or Organizational member who fails to use a live time slot that has been scheduled, or who cancels a live remote production with less than two weeks notice, must submit a written explanation to the Executive Director. Such cancellation may be reason to deny other such live program requests.

  • Live remote productions require complicated engineering coordination with employees of the cable company, the town's network administrator, and ECAT staff. Therefore, such requests are subject to the approval of these representatives. Producers are admonished to not publicize such a live event until such time as all approvals are secured.

I. Series Programming

Definition: A Series consists of at least four new programs with a consistent theme and/or format. To meet the requirements of series programming, at least one new episode per month must be submitted.

Time slots: 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 Playback Request Form must be resubmitted at that time. ECAT staff will attempt to provide a renewing Series the same time slot, however, the same time slot is not guaranteed.

In order to maintain a time slot, and to meet the requirements of a Series, the program provider must submit at least one new episode per month. New episodes should be submitted at least 48 hours prior to the cablecast date or by special arrangement with the Program Director. Episodes that have previously played on ECAT channels may be re-submitted only after at least three months have elapsed 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 ECAT staff. The ECAT staff may require four episodes to be submitted with the renewal of a show previously cancelled due to episodes not being supplied in a timely manner.

J. Disclosure of Information and Comment

Residents may call ECAT's main number at 508-230-7200 and both residents and the general public may leave comments or ask to be contacted by the program provider and the ECAT staff will relay that information. The name of a program provider will be provided upon request.

K. Copies of Cablecast Programs

If a viewer requests copies of a program, ECAT staff will contact the producer for permission, and if permission is granted will provide copies for a reasonable fee.

L. Use of Community Bulletin Board

ECAT operates an electronic Community Bulletin Board (“CCB”) which is shown on the channels when no other video programming is scheduled. Events or notices sponsored by non-profit organizations and the Town of Easton are listed as space allows, and are generally shown for one week, prior to the posted event. ECAT gives priority to Easton-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 Community Bulletin Board.

Notices may be submitted by email to info@eastoncat.org, or mail to ECAT, 50 Oliver Street Suite 201A, Easton, MA. 02356.

M. Political Campaigning

1. ECAT provides to all Easton residents, including those residents running for local, state or national public office or those supporting a ballot issue, equal opportunities for access to training, equipment resources and cable channel programming time, on a first-come, first-served, non-discriminatory basis. Any candidate for public office for whom Easton residents may vote shall be afforded the same rights as a resident of Easton with regard to access to ECAT facilities and channel time.

2. Due to the time pressures inherent in a political campaign, within ten (10) business days after the filing deadline for candidates running for  the Board of Selectmen,the Easton School Committee, or other elective office, ECAT will mail to each candidate a copy of the ECAT Policies & Procedures and inform them of a special orientation meeting for candidates.

3. In order to ensure equal opportunities for programming time on ECAT channels, the following rules apply.

  • ECAT maintains the right to limit length and frequency of programming. Such limits when imposed shall apply to all programs on the channel and to all program producers.

  • ECAT retains the right to preempt programming at any time in order to provide timely local programming, such as live or taped special municipal events, important local debates/forums, election-related programming, satellite downlinking, etc.

  • A sufficient block of time will be reserved during each political season to enable a wide selection of political programs to be cablecast.


4. Use of the CBB shall be restricted to one page, per candidate for public office whose constituency includes Easton or ballot issue, beginning with closing date for the filing of papers with the Election Commission.  ECAT may issue a Candidate CBB Form to guide candidates in appropriate use.

N. Publicity

ECAT staff will publicize programs in a variety of ways, including listings on the ECAT website, social networking websites, local papers, other local Easton based websites and on the electronic Community Bulletin Board. Please consult ECAT staff 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. 

O. Outside or Sponsored Programming  

Programming that is produced outside of Easton, including legally permissible downloads from the Internet may be allowed to be cablecast on Easton public access channels. Any ECAT Member may sponsor such programming as the Local Sponsor by completing the agreement with the ECAT Policies & Procedures.  Requests for cablecast time-slots will be honored on a first-come, first-served basis. Locally produced programming will take precedence as ECAT's top priority in scheduling. ECAT staff may determine appropriate playback periods for outside programming to ensure program continuity. When all time-slots in a playback period are full, approval for cablecast of new programs will be withheld until time becomes available. Outside programming may be excluded from Prime Time cablecast when locally produced, Easton based programming fills all of these time slots.

All outside programs are required to have the ECAT disclaimer and funding acknowledgment at the beginning of the program (Exhibit A attached). The Local Sponsor is responsible for compliance with these provisions, not ECAT staff. Failure to comply will mean the tape does not get cablecast.

An ECAT Access Member may produce programming with non-ECAT equipment, and facilities and still be considered "Locally-produced programming". Community producers wishing to use their own equipment must be ECAT Members, meet the minimum technical standards for cablecast of their final product, and must complete a Project Application indicating that no ECAT equipment is requested.


Satellite Import programming
If the technology becomes available any ECAT member may make a request to have ECAT carry satellite-delivered programming. To be considered, such programming must be available on the existing satellite equipment and subscription service (currently the Dish Network) which ECAT operates. Also, ECAT must be given express, written permission to carry such programming from the copyright holder. Finally, the ECAT member requesting the programming must complete a program proposal application, and sign a statement re-affirming his or her responsibility for the content of the programming. As with other Import programming, time will be granted on a first-come, first-served, non-discriminatory basis. However, since current equipment only permits live or real-time carriage from the satellite receiver, Satellite Import programming may only be shown at the time such programming is scheduled on the satellite, and may not be shown during the Friday evening to Saturday morning hours currently reserved for taped Import programming. Any satellite delivered program that is produced as a new episode daily may be requested and shown, not to exceed five episodes in any week. 

P. Technical Requirements and Standards

As of 6/01/10 ECAT will only accept DVD submissions and/or file based content.  

DVD-R is the prefered format.  DVD's that are delivered to ECAT with excessive scratches and damages may be rejected.  In addition:

  • DVD must only have 1 program per disc

  • All programs Be timed out from the producer.  Disc and case must be clearly labeled with program time (including disclaimers - from "black to black"), show title, producer name

  • Must be preceded by the ECAT disclaimer and funding acknowledgment (if applicable)


Files submitted for playback on the ECAT Server must be in the MPEG2 format and adhere to the ACM Server Standards (http://alliancecm.org/standards). 

If a problem with the audio and/or visual signal is identified during actual cablecast, then the cablecast operator will attempt to complete the cablecast. The cablecast operator will terminate the cablecast prior to the scheduled end of the cablecast if the break-up or poor signal quality persists.  The program will not be repeated until the technical problems are solved.


Producers requesting a half-hour time slot must submit a program of no more than 29:00 minutes in total program running time. Programs for one-Hour slots must be no more than 59:00.   The 30 minutes must include the ECAT provided disclaimer and funding acknowledgment which is one minute in length.(Exhibit A attached).  

Q. Staff-Produced Community Programming

ECAT is required under its agreement with the Town of Easton to produce programming of interest to the community and will make every effort to inform members of volunteer production opportunities on such production.