Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Public access television
Public access television is a cable television service that allows members of the public to use a cable company's facilities and equipment to create and broadcast their own content. This service is provided to the public free of charge on a first-come, first-served, non-discriminatory basis, and there are very lax censorship rules. However, funding for public access is typically very limited, so material broadcast on such channels is often of very low quality. Even so, public access TV can be an important outlet for the interests of underserved groups within a community. Occasionally, terrestrial (over-the-air) broadcasters also provide time for public access programming.
Public access is one of the main types of local origination services from cable TV providers. Related to public access are government and educational access , and also leased access television, which allows for programming of a more commercial nature.
One of the most famous public access programs is an entirely fictitious one, Wayne's World, which was a sketch on Saturday Night Live that later became a movie. Some public access channels carry nationally-distributed programs. A good example of this would be Free Speech TV 's Democracy Now!, which airs in many places across the United States.
Occasionally, public access shows gain enough of a following for local broadcasters to take notice, and some shows have ended up going over the airwaves in their communities. A PBS program called Mental Engineering claims to be the first American show to originate on public access TV, find its way to a local station, and finally end up being broadcast nationally over the air. It started at the public access channel of Saint Paul, Minnesota, was picked up by KTCA, and had an episode broadcast across the U.S. after Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002.
- Bill Olson's History of Public Access
- The Global Village CAT: Worldwide links to 600 Community & Public Access Television sites
- Douglas Kellner's history of Public Access at the Museum of Television
- Public Access TV weblog
- On the different kinds of access television
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