Public Access Television: Get Air Time for Your Videos and Build Your Audience! 

Public access television might be just the opportunity for you if you're looking for different ways to expand the audience for your videos.

These television channels are community-based channels that broadcast in a specific region. Local municipalities collect cable television franchise fees from the cable companies that serve their area. Each municipality then has the option to use these fees to fund access channels.

Not all access channels offer the opportunity for the public to broadcast their content. Some access channels broadcast government meetings and some broadcast educational programming.

It is up to each municipality to decide which combination of public, educational and governmental channels they will support. Some communities have channels for all three types of programming, while others support just one type of programming.

For those communities that have public access channels, anyone residing in that community can produce and submit their content for broadcast.

The goal of public access television is to promote a wide variety of local programming and to provide community members with the tools needed to create their programs. This opens up broadcast television to the average person to distribute their shows, ideas and creativity to their local viewers.

Benefits of Submitting Your Videos for Broadcast on Public Access Television

There are some great reasons you might want to consider submitting your videos for broadcast on public access television:

  • Potentially free or low-cost distribution of your work. Many public access stations will broadcast your shows for free or at a very low cost. Each station develops their own rules regarding pricing, so be sure to inquire before submitting your videos.

  • Creative freedom to produce the programming content of your choice. For example, you could create a talk show, a music video of your band, a cooking show demonstrating your great recipes, a sports show or a how-to video demonstrating your area of expertise.

    There are some restrictions, however. Your videos must be non-commercial in content. Your public access station will give you a list of rules of what is considered non-commercial along with other rules regarding acceptable programming content. 

  • Classes to improve your media skills. Some public access stations offer field production training; studio training; lighting, audio and camera classes.

    Some even have studios where you can produce your videos using professional sound, camera, lighting and control room equipment. They might have computer stations and software where you can edit your videos in post production.

    And here's some more good news for those of us just beginning to make videos and are working with a tight budget. The costs for equipment usage, studio rental and training classes are oftentimes a real bargain -- significantly less than you would find at a school or anywhere else! Be sure to ask your public access station what training and equipment they offer.

  • Network with other video makers. You'll have opportunities to meet other video makers through your public access station. You can share ideas and information, get feedback on your work and help one another with video projects.

    The friendships and work relationships you make can lead you to other video making opportunities and will help spread the news of your projects.

How to Submit Your Videos To Public Access Television

  1. First, you'll need to find out if there's a public access television channel in your area. Check out the Wikipedia article, "List of public-access TV stations in the United States."

    If there isn't a station in your area, don't give up. Contact the facility nearest you and ask if they will accept your media anyway. Public access stations try to be "user friendly" and might have policies to assist you.

  2. Familiarize yourself with the rules of what your station will broadcast. We mentioned earlier the importance of following your station's rules. You don't want to take the time and effort of producing a video that is either too commercial or violates one of your station's other submission rules.

  3. Produce and submit your show to your station. Take some time to plan out a video that really showcases your talent. For more information, see our "Planning a Video Project in 5 Steps" article for ideas on how to successfully plan and produce your program.

    A nice touch is to include a thank you in your video's end credits to your public access station for providing the channel and assistance needed to broadcast your work.

  4. Lastly, brag a little! It's a big accomplishment to get your video on television, especially if this is something out of your comfort zone.

    Do a posting about your show on Facebook, tell your family and friends to tune in, send out a Tweet, and talk it up on your blog or website. Having a show on public access television can be a great experience for you to build your audience and add a little clout to your video producing resume, so make the most of it!

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Interested in learning how to make money with your videos? Read these articles for more information:

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