Public access television production in Malibu will no longer be as easily accessible to the amateur. New rules and regulations for submissions by local producers will take effect April 15, according to Falcon Cable Director of Local Programming Jeanette Scovill.
Essentially there are three big changes the Malibu producer must conform to, Scovill said. These are: tape type, labeling and residency of the production.
“There’s been a continuing effort to try to improve the technical quality of programming on the local public access channel,” said Scovill. “Because we have a lot of industry people living in Malibu, there’s a very high expectation of what a program should look like.”
Gone are the days of using a home VHS camera to tape an airable show. “In the past they had to at least dub that to a three-quarter inch tape. That was the standard. But it’s very much become now the dinosaur of broadcast quality tape,” Scovill said. “Now the move is to go to BETA SP. BETA SP transfers much better to a digital hard drive. It also means that the user has to become a little more sophisticated about the professional presentation of a tape. Basically what we’re asking them to do is, instead of duplicating their master onto three-quarter, we’re asking them to transfer and submit on BETA SP.” Scovill acknowledges that the price of BETA SP is now cost effective for the local producer.
Additionally, local public access producers will be required to properly label their submissions, noting the start and stop time in appropriate technical terms. “When we describe for them ‘time code,’ many of them are unfamiliar with how to write the length of their show in time code. Our new instructions actually spell out how to do that. We ask them to put down the first frame of video and audio on their program and the last frame of video and audio on their program, and write the time code for that.”
One of the reasons for the new protocol, according to Scovill, is to match the quality of what’s coming in with the quality of Falcon’s new equipment, called an MPEG encoder, that’s sending the program out to the viewer. “The new system that we’re using, which calls for playing the tape on a tape player and translating it through a computer software package, turns it into a digital signal. It’s very high-end equipment. It’s very sensitive. If the original tape isn’t good quality, it’s not going to accept it. In many ways, this is a service to the viewer.” Scovill said the new refinement is intended to improve the picture seen at home.
The final area affecting how a local producer submits for broadcast on Falcon Public Access stems from a four-year-old request from the city. “There has been an increasing request through various committees that the city has had to look at having only local residents on the system. At this point we have rewritten the guidelines so that they reflect the intention of the city of Malibu and residents to have local programming on the air.” Scovill said residents must prove they actually live here by authentic identification. The only other option, she said, is to have a Malibu resident accept liability for a program submitted.
The only outside programs that will continue to air, such as “Week In Review” and “Family Focus,” are considered public service material. Scovill said more changes are underway in the swim of local access.