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Commercial Movies on Municipal Cable Channel

John Michrina

My community operates its own municipal cable channel that is staffed with full-time employees. The municipal channel occasionally runs old black and white commercial movies on weekends. I have not seen this in my previous communities, and it seems like a strange use for municipal resources. Before I look into this, I would greatly appreciate knowing what is happening in other communities. Maybe this is a commonly accepted practice that I am just ignorant of.

I know that the municipal channel is careful to comply with copyrights, but I will make certain on that, too.


Accepted answer
Robert Cole

Our cable franchise agreement would preclude airing a non-locally produced video, excepting government PSAs, e.g., a state or federal government emergency preparedness video.

It is noteworthy that restricting videos by franchise agreement to those produced by the local government and local cable subscribers makes the job of processing video airing requests from non-community individuals or entities a much more straight-forward affair. A video is rejected based on franchise rules rather than content -- not an insignificant consideration when one recognizes the importance of content neutrality in making an airing decision.

John Michrina

John Michrina

That is an excellent point!

Marshall Pimentel

Mr. Michrina,
After perusing several municipal channel's programming schedules, it seems that broadcasting movies doesn't seem to be a prevailing practice.

I spoke with a woman at HTV Houston who said they might show movies once in a blue moon, but only if fit has some sort of civic intent.

I also spoke with the Senior Producer, Josh Winstead, at Boulder 8 and he seemed to think that running movies would be a legal nightmare for municipal channels because of copyright issues. He also said he had been in broadcasting for several years and hadn't heard of cities doing this before.

Obviously, I can't speak for all cities, but it doesn't seem to be common.


John Michrina

John Michrina

Marshall, Thank you.

Kevin Knutson


That's the first time I've heard of that, after more than twenty years of being involved with local government access channels. I've seen where a certain part of the day is used for arts programming from a nonprofit provider or where free resources (such as PSAs from the Ad Council) are used as filler. My concern would not be copyrights, as those are easily addressed, but rather programming choices. As anyone who has every put on a "movies in the park" series knows, even the most innocuous choices can be criticized.

John Michrina

John Michrina

Kevin, I guess someone would have to watch it to complain.

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6 Jan 17
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