Chicagoland Public Access Television operated by

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Public Access?

Public access exists due to an agreement between the cable company and the communities it serves. Public access programming is community programming on cable TV. It gives you the opportunity to write, produce, direct, and perform in your own programs. People who normally are not allowed easy access to the mass media find a powerful resource for local expression through public access. A majority of public access programs are produced locally by non-professionals.

Many of these programs were produced at various Comcast production facilities. Over 1 million households in the greater Chicago marketplace receive public access as a part of their basic cable service. Your efforts are supported by Comcast's public access staff. We provide you with the necessary training, equipment, and use of facilities free of charge.

2. Who is it for?

Anyone with a non-commercial message or idea can present it on the public access channel.

3. Why should I get involved in public access television?

Public access is a great opportunity to take a stand on a current issue, or let the community know what your group is doing. It's a cost free way to promote your special interest or event and have fun doing it.

What programs are seen on public access? Any programming protected by the first amendment which is NOT commercial, libelous, slanderous or obscene in nature may be shown on public access. These include interviews, panel discussions, sports, documentaries, performances, political, religious, educational, entertainment and many other types of programs.

4. How can I get involved with public access?

Getting involved with public access begins with taking our public access classes. Through these classes, you can become a certified access producer. Then you can use Comcast's video equipment to make your own programs. The classes cover the basic elements of TV production: camera, lighting, audio, directing, script writing, editing, and so on. The class includes a group project, which is an in-studio, 30 minute talk show format program which actually gets played on the air! Finally, there is a written examination. Students who attend the classes, participate in the group project, and pass the written exam are then rewarded with certification.

The classes, channel time, and use of equipment are free. The amount of time and energy you devote to the program is up to you. It can be hard work, but well worth the effort.

5. What does it cost to produce a public access show?
The costs to produce a public access show are minimal. The classes are free (there is a small fee to cover the cost of class materials), the use of facilities and equipment is free. Therefore, generally, your only costs are the costs for your tapes. The average cost for a public access producer to produce a single in-studio, 30 minute program per month is less than $15. Any additional costs are up to you - if you wish to invest your money into the production value of your show, you are free to do so.
6. Can I make money off my show?
No, you cannot make a profit from your public access show. You are also prohibited from using public access equipment and facilities on other projects which can generate revenue.
7. Can I use public access equipment or facilities for my own personal interests?
No, you may not use public access equipment or facilities for your own interests, even if they generate no revenue. The equipment and facilities are provided to you SOLELY for use in producing public access programming. They are not intended for use in producing school projects, family videos, or other hobbies -- unless you intend to SHOW said projects on the public access channel.
8. Can I use my own equipment to produce my show?
Yes, you may use your own equipment to produce your show. The final tape must be in a format which is acceptable for playback on the access channel.
9. How can I find crew to help me produce my show?

The best way to find crew for your show is by "networking." We encourage the "buddy" system, where producers help each other on their shows. By doing so, your chances of finding crew is increased.

You can also network with other producers on our public access Facebook page.

10. How many people do I need to crew my show?

The more people you have to crew your show, the easier it will be to produce and the better it will look! To cover every crew position, you will need 9 people. You may or many not need this many people, depending on the complexity of your show. On a more simple production, you may be able to combine some of the crew positions.

We require a minimum of 4 people to crew your show. Comcast staff should not be considered to fill crew positions.