FAQ: How Can They Show That on TV?

Q: How Can They Show That on TV?

Community Access Television is for everyone. It is programmed by residents who choose to place programming. Most of the programming you see on these access channels is actually produced by members of the community the channel serves — either private individuals, community-based organizations, or the town government.

Community access television is an electronic forum for free expression by the residents of town or towns the center serves. Sometimes, viewers say “There ought to be a law about what I saw on the station last night!” There IS a law: the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and its guarantee that “Congress shall pass no law abridging the freedom of speech…” Basically, any resident of the town the center serves is free to say or do anything he or she wants on their own program, provided that they can assure us that their program does nor contain any illegal content.

We have agreed to maintain a public forum for the free expression of ideas — even ideas you or I might not agree with! — as long as we prohibit all of the following types of content in programs:

1. Commercials or advertising
2. Libel or slander
3. Obscenity and pornography
4. Any violation of copyrights, publicity rights, or invasion of privacy
5. Any violation of FCC regulations
6. any violation of any local, state, or federal law.

If you see something on an access channel which does not fall into one of the above categories, but which upsets you anyway, you have the right to become a member and learn how to produce your own program or message on the channel, to counteract the programming that upset you. As Supreme Court Justice Brandeis said: “…avert the evil by the process of education… the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”

If you’d like to know how the FCC defines obscenity, and the very different type of content called “indecency,” you may read their Consumer Fact Sheet at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/obscene.html.

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