2. Programming

2. Programming


CCTV has multiple distribution outlets, including cable channels, a website, social media sites, and set-top applications. CCTV also works in collaboration with the City of Cambridge to produce City-related programming. All CCTV programming is provided as a public forum for solely noncommercial speech, and is therefore not subject to content regulation by the Federal Communications Commission, the City of Cambridge, or the cable operator. CCTV is content neutral and any content that is considered protected speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is permissible on CCTV’s cable channels. As a public forum, CCTV’s cable channels are available to all Cambridge residents for noncommercial, constitutionally protected speech on a nondiscriminatory basis. Such speech, when shown on the cable channels, is subject only to reasonable time, place, and manner requirements as defined in these programming policies.  CCTV has discretion as to which programs are distributed on its other outlets. By signing the Program Distribution Agreement, the person who provides programming for CCTV’s distribution outlets takes personal responsibility for the content of that programming. 

A. Submission of Programming

For the purposes of these Programming Policies, the term “program provider” means the person who signs the Program Distribution Agreement.

Placement on CCTV’s cable channels is available for programming produced or sponsored by Cambridge residents, or designated representatives from Cambridge businesses and organizations.  Any resident, business, or organization with a valid Cambridge address may sponsor a Single Program. A Series Program must be sponsored by a Cambridge resident. CCTV regulations require that either the producer or the sponsor of a series program be an Affiliate or Resident Member of CCTV.  Anyone who utilizes CCTV’s equipment and facilities may submit programming for CCTV’s other distribution outlets.

A Program Distribution Agreement for Series or Single programs must accompany media submitted for distribution. This Program Distribution Agreement functions as a contract between the program provider and CCTV. Series Program Distribution Agreements must be resubmitted once per calendar year as long as the series is active. Formatting and labeling requirements are detailed on the Program Distribution Agreement.

CCTV staff has the right to not distribute or stop a program if the audio and/or video signal is below minimum technical standards as determined by those monitoring the technical aspects of the content. CCTV staff and the program provider will be consulted before a program is not shown or pulled from the channels. 

B. Program Submission

Please refer to the Program Distribution Agreement on CCTV’s website for further details on program submission. A Program Distribution Agreement must accompany all submissions of Single programs. The first episode in a Series must be submitted with an authorized Program Distribution Agreement. All subsequent Series episodes must be submitted at least two business days before their scheduled distribution. Exceptions may be made only at the discretion of CCTV staff. 

C. Content Responsibility and Liability

The responsibility and liability for program content lies solely with the program provider, that is, the Cambridge resident or Cambridge business or organization whose designated representative signs the Program Distribution Agreement. CCTV, the cable operator, and the City of Cambridge 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. CCTV, the City of Cambridge, and the cable operator are not responsible for the content of the programming shown on CCTV’s distribution platforms. 

D. Programming Restrictions

Presentation of the following is prohibited within permitted programming:

  • Any commercial advertising or programming (except non-English programming on Channel 96) including: 
    • promotion of the sale of any service or product
    • price information
    • commercial calls to action or inducements to buy
  • 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 minimum technical standards for distribution. Please see the Program Distribution Agreement for information on formatting requirements.
  • Programming that does not fall under constitutionally protected speech and raises serious risk of liability on the part of CCTV. 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 distributed by CCTV, but CCTV’s staff will schedule this material between the hours of 11 PM and 5 AM on the cable channels. It is the responsibility of the program provider who signs the Program Distribution Agreement, 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 of clarification for Live producers: All programming, both live and pre-recorded, is subject to the full set of Programming policies and obligations. Currently, all live programming is scheduled before 11 PM and therefore may not contain any potentially objectionable material.

Any program provider who violates CCTV’s content guidelines or misrepresents the content of a program on the Program Distribution Agreement 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 CCTV’s Programming and Policies Committee, consisting of representatives from the CCTV Board of Directors and staff. Appeals must be made within ten business days of an action by submitting a request, in writing, through the Executive Director 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, through the Executive Director, 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.

CCTV 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 CCTV staff, may be objectionable to viewers.  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 CCTV, the City of Cambridge, the cable provider, or web host. If placed during the program, such a notice will be as discreet as possible in order to avoid interference with the program content.

F. Program Distribution Across Platforms

CCTV staff will program the cable channels to present a coherent schedule to cable subscribers that will: 1) build audience; 2) diversify programming; 3) distribute channel time equitably; and 4) minimize technical issues.  CCTV 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. 

Cable programming will be scheduled in a timely manner (usually one to two weeks after submission). Program providers will be notified of their time slots the first time the program is shown on CCTV’s channels. Notification of subsequent timeslots is at the Programming Coordinator’s discretion.

CCTV retains discretion over programming posted to its other distribution platforms.

G. Scheduling Priorities

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

CCTV staff will attempt to accommodate all requests and will not exclude any Cambridge resident from showing a program on the community channels. All programming schedule decisions by CCTV staff are final.

Viewers may contact the Programming Coordinator to request that programming be repeated and CCTV staff will, to the best of its ability, try to satisfy such requests. At the discretion of the Programming Coordinator, the program provider responsible for the program may be notified of the repeat.

H. Live Programming

Live programming is a live, interactive programming format provided by CCTV for Cambridge residents, organizations, and businesses to produce programming. Any Cambridge resident may use live programming once at no cost. Only Members may produce live programming.

A live programming slot may be requested by submitting a Live Programming Agreement, which includes all of the rules and procedures related to live programming and indicates that the program provider consents to these rules and procedures. The Programming Coordinator will set up a training session with the producer prior to scheduling a slot.  

Live series are renewable on an annual basis and a Live Programming Agreement must be resubmitted. Annually, CCTV staff will attempt to provide a renewing live program the same time slot, however, the same time slot is not guaranteed. Live programming is subject to cancellation if the producer consistently misses shows.  Please see the Live Programming Agreement for more information.

Live programs are subject to the same restrictions as other programming on CCTV’s channels. However, due to the time slots available for the production of live programming, potentially objectionable content is prohibited during live programming slots. Any live producer who violates CCTV’s content guidelines or misrepresents the content of a program on the Live Agreement will receive a Notice of Violation (see Section Six ~ Violations of Policy). A second such offense will result in cancellation of the live program.

I. Series Programming on CCTV Cable Channels

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 cable 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 Program Distribution Agreement must be resubmitted at that time. CCTV 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 two days prior to the distribution date or by special arrangement with the Programming Coordinator.  Episodes that have previously been distributed may be re-submitted only after at least six months have elapsed since the original distribution. Cancellation of a series time slot may result from a failure to meet the above conditions and is at the discretion of the Programming Coordinator. CCTV 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

CCTV shall maintain a viewer response line at 617-401-4010. Viewers and members of the general public may leave comments or ask to be contacted by the program provider and CCTV staff will relay that information.  The name of a program provider will be provided upon request.

K. Copies of Programs

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

L. Political Campaigning

Political candidates are subject to the same operating procedures as other program providers for CCTV’s channels. Everyone in the community has equal access to the facilities and distribution. There is no equal time rule for cable television.

It is CCTV’s responsibility to provide an open political forum. CCTV considers election programming to commence with certification of candidates for the ballot and to end on Election Day. Within two weeks of certification, all candidates on the local and county ballot will receive notice of CCTV's policies and availability of resources. CCTV has no responsibility to produce programming for candidates simply because another candidate requests resources. It is the responsibility of the candidates or those working on their behalf to submit programming, or to become Members and produce programs to be distributed by CCTV. 

M. Publicity

CCTV staff will publicize programs in a variety of ways, including listings on CCTV’s website and social media. Please consult the Programming Coordinator 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.