KMVT Frequently Asked Questions
What is public access television?
In the Cable Communications Act of 1984, Congress established a provision that would permit local authorities to develop requirements for public use of the local cable system. This provision would enable communities to provide a "voice" for their residents and organizations. To meet this objective in our community, the City and local cable operator AT&T make a channel available for the public to use on the Mountain View cable system. Any individual or organization from the community can produce a television program, and air it on the local public access channel. In our community, this channel is operated by Mountain View Community Television, KMVT, under contract with the City. KMVT is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization and provides training, staff support, and equipment needed to produce and cablecast public access programming.
Why is public access television important?
Public access television is truly a public forum and helps "build" community by providing a speaker's platform for the community of Mountain View. Public access television is a place where people can freely communicate their ideas to one another and establish a form of dialogue where democracy can flourish.
What kind of programming can air on public access?
Programming on almost any topic imaginable can air on public access television. The content is the sole responsibility of the producer and is protected under the First Amendment in the United States Constitution. All editorial control rests with the public access producer. The programming is not censored by KMVT, the City, nor the local cable operator. However, some content, such as obscenity, is not protected by the First Amendment and cannot air on KMVT or any public access channel. KMVT also prohibits commercial programming on the channel.
Is all the programming that airs on KMVT considered public access?
No. KMVT's staff also produces about 300 hours a year of original community-based programming. This programming is considered "local origination (LO)" or "staff-produced programming," and its content is strictly controlled by KMVT. Before the Council, Face to Face, candidate debates, public service announcements, and local sports are all examples of staff-produced programming. Staff-produced programming accounts for about 25% of KMVT's total programming. The other 75% is public access.
Can any community resident or organization produce a show at KMVT?
Yes. All Residents and organizations can take our training workshops and produce any programming that is of interest to them.
Who decides what kind of programming airs on KMVT?
Station management schedules all KMVT programming depending on channel space availability. The decision to air a program is not content-based. Any access program that is afforded protection under the First Amendment and submitted to KMVT by a Mountain View resident or organization will air on the channel.
Why do some shows on KMVT come from other cities and states?
Quite often, community residents and organizations acquire preproduced programming they want to air on the channel. This programming is often produced in neighboring cities and at times, other states. KMVT defines this type of programming as "Import" or "Bicycle" programming. Any program produced outside of the KMVT facilities can air on the channel, but the program must be sponsored by a Mountain View resident or organization. Bicycle programming accounts for about 50% of KMVT's programming.
Does KMVT have the power to censor public access programs?
No. Public access television by its very definition is programming whose editorial content is exclusively controlled by the access producer. If KMVT, the City, or the cable operator pre-screened programming to determine what should or should not air, they would be taking away the producer's editorial control. In turn, they would be denying "access" to the public to use the airwaves. KMVT does believe it has a responsibility to its producers, viewers, and community to educate the access producer as to what content is constitutionally protected under the First Amendment, and what is not. However, the final interpretation of what is constitutionally protected is the producer's responsibility.
Are there any FCC regulations regarding censorship that public access stations, cities, or cable operators must follow?
No. In the 1984 Cable Act Congress specifically prohibited cable operators from "exercising any editorial control over any video programming provided" on any access channel, supporting the fact that access channels are a public forum. Cities and public access stations have followed suit. Sections of the Telecommunications Act of 1992 attempted to give censorship control back to the cable operators for indecent programming, but in June of 1996, the Supreme Court struck down those sections sighting that indecent speech is protected under the First Amendment and cannot be censored. In 1973 (Miller V. California) the United States Supreme Court developed a three-part test to define obscenity, which is not protected by the First Amendment. Under this test an access station could prohibit programming considered obscene, but the Supreme Court's definition is extremely broad and access channels have generally had difficulty applying the three-part test. In turn, many access stations do not attempt to censor obscene programming. Also, in 1993, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that the judicial system must be used to deal with obscenity.
If I see something on the channel I don't like, can I do anything about it?
Yes. We respect our viewers' rights as well as those of our producers, and KMVT welcomes and encourages viewer comments. It is important that the station and access producers receive feedback for the programming aired on KMVT. If you see something you do not like, please contact the KMVT Executive Director and express your concern. If the Executive Director determines that the program in question egregiously violates any station policies, the program could be pulled from the schedule until the violation is resolved. The viewer or producer can initiate the Grievance Process as defined in the KMVT User's Guide if they are discontent with the Executive Director's decision.
Who can receive KMVT's channel signal?
Any Comcast cable subscriber that resides within the Mountain View, Los Altos and Cupertino boundaries receives KMVT's signal via channel 15. KMVT is available via AT &T U Verse channel 99 throughout the Bay Area and on www.youtube.com/user/kmvt. KMVT is NOT carried on any of the dish networks or satellite tv.
How is KMVT funded?
KMVT is an independent, nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization, with the majority of funding provided by cable franchise fees and cable company support. Additional revenue comes from donations, fund raising and client services.
What hours does KMVT program?
KMVT 15 currently cablecasts video programming from Noon – Midnight during the weekdays, 8:30AM - 8PM on Saturdays and 10AM- 8PM on Sundays. KMVT's cablecasts hours will exceed these times should the availability of local programming warrant it. The Community Bulletin Board, Public Service Announcements, and Station ID's run during non-programming hours.
How is KMVT, Channel 15 different than City Channel 26?
KMVT, Channel 15 is the local public access station. City Channel 26 is the local government access channel. Unlike KMVT, the City Channel is dedicated to City government news and information, and the editorial control rests with the City. Live coverage of City Council and Environmental Planning Commission meetings are the mainstay of Channel 26 programming. In addition, programs highlighting City services and issues are also produced and cablecast.
What is KMVT's reputation compared to other public access stations?
KMVT is a well-respected organization in the industry and considered a model station nationally. The past five years the station has been honored both regionally and nationally for its outstanding commitment to community television. In July of 1997 and 1998, KMVT won the coveted Alliance for Community Media's national award for "Overall Excellence in Local Origination (Staff-produced) Programming."
How does the community get involved with KMVT?
The station offers a multitude of production and social media literacy workshops to all community members and organizations. Some of these workshops are grant-funded and cater to specific groups. KMVT also works closely with many local nonprofit organizations to promote their services and events. Volunteers can get involved by helping support public access and staff-produced productions as well as KMVT daily operations. If a community member has a program they would like to see aired, a message to communicate, or are simply interested in supporting free speech, they can contact the station at (650) 968-1540, fax us at (650) 968-1543, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org