Saturday, August 16, 2008

Draft of proposed revision of government-channel policy

AJS 11 Revised August 10, 2008, per committee meeting of August 6, 2008


The City of Fayetteville Government Access Channel, in accordance with resolution 94-91, is intended to give Fayetteville residents information about City government services, programs, and activities and their relationships within the community and help to create an open and participatory local government. The Fayetteville Government Channel is not a public-access channel and will televise only programs that are directly related to government. The channel is administered by the City’s administrator of the government channel under guidelines established by and interpreted by the Telecommunications Board.


The Fayetteville Telecommunications Board was created under Ordinance 4504, Chapter 33, which authorizes the board “to facilitate the creation of policies regarding cable cast program content selection, time guidelines for program content, viewer and facility user complaint/feedback practices, and other such policies regarding the use and administration,” of the Government Channel. The purpose of this policy is to establish (a) the criteria by which Governmental entities and related organizations are deemed eligible to have programming on the channel and (b) allow the Government Channel staff to operate without determining the programming content.


A. NONPARTISAN: Not controlled or influenced by, or supporting, any
single political party, faction or viewpoint.

B. PARTISAN: Controlled or influenced by, or supporting, a particular
political party, faction or viewpoint.

C. INFORMATIONAL: Facts delivered from all perspectives without an element of persuasion or partisanship and designed to assist the listener to make informed decisions about government business.





First-level priority will be given to televising City of Fayetteville Governmental meetings, regardless of the format in which they are conducted. City of Fayetteville Governmental meetings are defined as meetings of the governing bodies created by the City of Fayetteville that meet FOIA criteria, including all committees, subcommittees, boards, commissions, task forces, and other such bodies dealing with City of Fayetteville business.



Second-level priority for use of the Government Channel will be given to nonpartisan informational programs about City services, activities and events.



Third-level priority for use of the Government Channel will be given for any meeting that meets FOIA criteria and deals with government business that directly affects residents of Fayetteville. Such meetings include, but are not limited to, those of Washington County, regional, state and federal agencies, Boston Mountain Solid Waste District, and Fayetteville Public Schools.


Third-level priority for use of the Government Channel will also be given for non-partisan informational programs about government services or activities that may be provided by other governmental entities, such as, but not limited to Washington County, regional, state, federal agencies and Boston Mountain Solid Waste District.


Third-level priority will also be given to outside agencies or groups with whom the City of Fayetteville contracts, grants money or has an agreement to provide city services or activities. In such cases, the program shall be nonpartisan in nature.

Third-level priority will be given to two types of limited public forums: candidate forums and issue forums. Declared candidates for any public office, and people advocating a partisan viewpoint, or proposed policy of a particular nature, concerning governmental matters, will be eligible to appear only in a limited public forum.
A limited public forum has the following criteria:
a. It is devoted to public expression and the free exchange of ideas and is conducted in a public place.
b. All candidates or sides of an issue are given an equal opportunity to appear.
c. Reasonable time, place, manner, and format restrictions will be applied without reference to content.
d. The administrator of the government channel may contact a non-partisan organization to organize the forum or suggest that an ad hoc committee be formed to organize and coordinate the forum.
e. The forum will be moderated or sponsored by a non-partisan person or organization that will ensure equity. In addition, the participants may form an ad hoc committee, with input and approval by all participants, to organize and coordinate the forum.
f. All candidates and organizations participating in the forum will have the right of approval of the moderator. During the forum, the debate will be timed, if the participants agree to such a format. The moderator will solicit and select audience input, and decide points of order.
g. If it becomes apparent that only one side of a forum is willing to participate, the forum shall be conducted with only one side participating. In such a case, all of the rules as stated here for conducting a forum shall remain and be applied.

Candidate forums:
h. For purposes of this policy, a person is considered to be a candidate from the time of announcing publicly for any public office until the election has been held.
i. This restriction that candidates can appear only in a limited public forum does not apply to people who receive incidental air time as part of public meetings being cablecast on the channel, nor to officials acting as part of their regular duties when such activities do not involve partisan politics.
j. Ongoing series or programs featuring any elected City official may not be broadcast within 30 days of a contested primary or general election involving seats on the council or the mayorality.
k. The City, through the Cable Administration Division, shall conduct one candidate forum for each contested office, for which a request is made, before each election. As resources permit, forums shall be conducted for school board and any government office representing the Fayetteville area, including City, County, State and Federal offices. These are the only candidate forums that will appear on the Government Access Channel.
l. Candidate forums for any contested office must be requested in writing by at least one of the declared candidates for that office.
m. No candidate forums will be held before the last filing deadline.

Issue forums:
In addition to the limited public forum criteria:

n. Issue forums must be requested by at least two elected officials who have jurisdiction within Fayetteville, or twenty registered voters living within the city limits of Fayetteville.
o. The issue must be related to government ordinances, policies, or activities, thereby serving a compelling government interest.
p. Issue forums may be sponsored by non-partisan or partisan entities, but they must satisfy all criteria listed above for limited public forums, with particular attention to all sides of the issue being given equal opportunity to appear and to the moderator being mutually agreeable to all entities involved in the forum.
q. Requests for issue forums must be made to the Cable Administration Division at least two weeks in advance of the production date. The administrator of the government channel will verify that all criteria have been met and that resources are available to record the event (on a first-come, first=served and third-priority basis). If resources are not available, the forum will not be taped by the Government Channel staff for cable casting on the Government Access Channel.
r. All decisions by the administrator of the government channel will be communicated in writing to the requesting parties. Appeals of the administrator’s decisions will follow the appeal process outlined in this policy.


Last priority will go to the “Government Channel Bulletin Board.” The bulletin board will provide information in text form about both City and community events and services when other programs are not being cablecast. It may also be used to inform residents of other free community events and activities.

The Cable Administration staff reserves the right to edit for reasons of style and length all announcements/messages submitted for showing on the Government Channel Bulletin Board.


A. City of Fayetteville meetings and informational programs will be televised at the request of a City of Fayetteville government elected official, a City of Fayetteville department head, a City of Fayetteville division head or a committee chairman.

B. Meetings and informational programs of any governmental entity that affects the city of Fayetteville community, in addition to those of the City of Fayetteville, may be televised at the request of representatives of that entity.

C. Registered voters who live within the city limits of Fayetteville may request that the Government Channel cover any meeting held by the City of Fayetteville or any other governmental entity, provided that the meeting affects the citizens of Fayetteville and meets the FOIA criteria.

D. All requested meetings and other programs will be televised, provided the resources are available and there exists no conflict with a request to cover a meeting or program with a higher priority as outlined in this document. The administrator of the government channel has discretion over issues of resources and priority.

E. Governmental entities, other than the City of Fayetteville, that request productions to be performed by the Fayetteville Government channel staff, shall be charged the direct labor costs of such productions.

F. The Government Channel will not duplicate the “gavel-to-gavel” recording or cable casting of a meeting of another governmental entity when that entity has given assurance that it will provide such recording and cable casting.


Except when (1) the intent is to use brief excerpts as part of a larger program or (2) when technical difficulties interfere, the public portions of any City Council meeting or other public meetings receiving coverage on the channel, including limited public forums, will be cablecast in their entirety, without editing or subjective comment. All other programming is subject to editing by the Cable Administration as long as such editing does not alter the factual content or overall intent of the program being cablecast.

No promotion, endorsement or advertising for any private business, commercial service or product, or any profit-making activity, will be allowed on the Government Access Channel. However, brief audio and video credit may be given at the end of a program where special material or assistance has been donated by a commercial or charitable enterprise.


City of Fayetteville employees wishing to use the video equipment and studio facilities for City of Fayetteville productions shall make arrangements through the administrator of the government channel. Lending of equipment for personal or outside use shall not be authorized under these policies. Other people, groups, and organizations may apply to the Community Access Television provider for use of their equipment, facilities, and staff.


A. Before a program or other spot is scheduled for cablecasting, it must meet minimum technical and broadcast standards. These standards will be determined by the Cable Administration Division. Where a tape, slide show or film has been furnished by an entity other than city government, it must be viewed by the Cable Administration Division before it is scheduled or cablecast to ensure that it meets those standards.

B. All outside agencies, groups, or individuals desiring to cablecast programming other than forums on the Government Access Channel shall submit programs to the Cable Administration Division no later than one week prior to the requested air date. The Cable Administration shall ensure that it meets the policies stated here.

C. The requestor will ensure the Cable Administration Division of the program’s eligibility under the criteria and requirements listed above.

D. The requestor will ensure that the program has obtained all necessary copyright clearances and permissions where legally required.

E. The Cable Administration Division shall review the program, decide whether to grant or deny the request, and notify the requestor.


Council-desk audio coverage is gavel-to-gavel only. Ambient microphone will not be used to transmit general room noise before and after the actual meeting.

Video of the room as it fills or empties is acceptable, but Council microphones are closed. Only wide shots of the room are acceptable before and after a meeting to minimize the possibility of visually editorializing.

The person speaking will be on camera.

Individual reaction shots (shots of those not actually speaking or being addressed) are not allowed.

A brief wide shot of the room is acceptable to break up a long, spoken delivery or as a transition between agenda items and shots.

If a person is being directly addressed, a brief shot can be taken of that person in anticipation of that person’s response.


A. The Cable Administration Division will be responsible for scheduling appropriate programs and spots on the Government Access Channel and for publicizing the schedule.

B. Programs will be scheduled for cablecasting according to the same order of priority as indicated in the policy with allowances for first run of new programs, and timeliness in regard to viewers as follows:

1. Announcements or programs concerning emergencies affecting residents’ health or safety.

2. Regularly scheduled, recurring programs including informational series and cablecasts of regular public meetings.

3. One-time, special, or non-regular informational programs or cablecasts of meetings or other activities by government units.

4. Public service announcements.

5. Programs produced by individuals, agencies, or groups outside of Fayetteville City government with whom the City contracts or to whom it grants money. These programs must be submitted and approved for use on the Government Access Channel (See procedures for submission and approval of programming of other agencies above).

6. Limited public forums for both candidates and issues.

7. Additional replays of City archived meetings and informational programs may be requested to be replayed by elected officials and any registered voter living within the city of Fayetteville.

8. Programs and meetings originally requested by agencies other than the City may also be requested for such replays by the originating agency or any registered voter living within the city limits of Fayetteville.

9. Informational programs may be replayed from time to time at the
discretion of the Government Channel staff to create continuous programming and more effectively disseminate information.

10. Informational programs may be withdrawn from playback by the
entity or person who originally authorized the program to be produced.
Records shall be kept of such withdrawn programs indicating who requested the withdrawal and the reason for the withdrawal. The recording will remain in the archive.

A. All government channel programming shall be archived. Recordings of public meetings are unofficial and will not serve as an official record of the meetings.
DVD copies are the current format of archived copies of tapes of items used on government channel. The quality of the permanently archived copy must be certified by a staff member before the original recording is erased or recorded over. Preparation and storage of at least one additional copy of each item in a different and secure place is required. A storage hard drive or other electronic storage device may be created to offer another retrieval method.

The Fayetteville Library would be an appropriate place for duplicates of all government channel productions to be archived permanently. Future researchers must be able to retrieve complete copies in whatever format becomes dominant at a given time. Making all such archived video available online free for public use and copying by all will be assured.

A. Anyone may view any of the programs or meetings archived by the City at the PEG Television Facility.
B. People may purchase, at cost, any programs or meetings archived by the City.


A. The Telecommunications Board shall establish a Fairness Committee composed of five members who collectively shall have expertise in law, communication, government regulations, journalism and the public’s right to know.

B. The “fairness” committee will monitor all Government Channel programming for adherence to the policy regarding coverage, priority and procedure. This committee will monitor forums to see that they are fair and balanced and that “informational” programs are free from partisan elements.

Provisions will be made that will allow anyone, whether elected official, staff or committee member, to submit any Government Channel program to the committee and receive a prompt fairness determination. In the event that it is determined that a program was improperly biased, proper action will be taken, such as allowing the “opposition” to have equal time for a rebuttal.

An appeal of a telecom Board Fairness committee decision may be made to the Telecommunications Board within 10 working days of the committee’s decision. An appeal of a Telecommunications Board decision to the City Council must be sponsored by an alderman filing a written appeal in the City Clerk’s office within 10 working days of the Board’s decision.

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