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PURPOSE

The purpose of the Township’s Government Access Channel (GAC) shall be to provide information to the public about government and government-related community programs, activities, services, events, and issues. The cablecasting of this 24 hour/day information will originate at and be the responsibility of the Township of Lower Merion.

In providing such information to the public, the Township must allocate resources in the most efficient manner. Therefore, it shall be the general policy of the Township of Lower Merion to televise those meetings which have a broad applicability or interest to the Township as a whole.

OBJECTIVES

  1. To provide timely public information about government meetings, services, programs and events.
  2. To provide information which will enable the residents of Lower Merion to have more effective access to local government.
  3. To educate residents about government procedures and processes.
  4. To provide residents with information on various Township functions and departments.
  5. To expand community awareness of the decision-making processes of local government.
  6. To provide accurate, up-to-date information to residents during emergencies.
  7. To otherwise assist Township departments in the delivery of services, programs and information.
  8. To provide information about community activities, as space and time permit.

METHODS

  1. A character generator will be used to display a bulletin board of information at all times when other programs are not being cablecast on the Township’s GAC.
  2. In using the standard of broad applicability to the general population of the Township, the following meetings shall be televised on a regular basis:

    1. The monthly meeting of the Board of Commissioners.
    2. Monthly Board Committee meetings.
    3. Any other meetings which address matters of policy or issues of broad public interest or concern.

  3. Tape-delayed cablecasting. Replay of taped meetings and events as deemed appropriate.

CONTENT AND PRODUCTION

  1. Public meetings: Coverage of cablecast public meetings shall normally be gavel-to-gavel.
  2. The Board of Commissioners meetings or other public meetings receiving coverage on the GAC will be cablecast without editing or subjective comment, except when (1) the intent is to use excerpts as part of a larger program, or (2) when technical difficulties interfere.
  3. Meetings of the Board of Commissioners will be presented live whenever possible, and will be taped for playback during the following week. As presently done, the Township Secretary will continue to develop and maintain the official public record of such meetings.
  4. Locally-produced programs produced by, or for, the Township or Township departments, may be cablecast for Township residents.
  5. Programs produced elsewhere (do not involve Township resources to produce) which are available for acquisition and playback and which are relevant to the Township’s operation may, subject to the approval of the Township Manager, be cablecast for Township residents.
  6. Tapes produced elsewhere that are provided by current federal, state, and county elected officials regarding the status of issues and other governmental business may, subject to the approval of the Township Manager, be cablecast for Township residents, provided that fairness and equal time rules are followed where applicable.
  7. Tapes of political debates for the offices of Township Commissioner and/or Township Treasurer produced elsewhere may, subject to the approval of the Township Manager, be cablecast for Township residents.

GUIDELINES

The Government Access Channel will be used primarily to provide information by and about Lower Merion Township government. Programs produced by others about the Township of Lower Merion’s governmental activities and/or its supported activities or subjects, of general interest to the residents of Lower Merion, may be cablecast on this channel.

The Township Manager, after consultation with the President and Vice-President of the Board, shall have the responsibility of determining which meetings meet the definition under # 2(c) in the Methods section of this document and, therefore, should be televised.

Any Committee Chair who, contrary to the Township Manager’s determination, feels a particular meeting should be televised shall contact the President and Vice-President of the Board, to discuss those items on the agenda which they believe meet the definition under #2(c) in the Methods section of this document. Five working days are desired to schedule appropriate technical assistance to televise meetings. If the President and Vice-President of the Board concur that the meeting should be televised, the President or Vice President shall so inform the Township Manager who will make the necessary arrangements.

Similarly, any staff member who feels a particular meeting will address issues of broad public interest should discuss with the Township Manager the applicability of televising the meeting.

PROHIBITIONS

  1. Commercial Messages.
    Anything promoting a product or service, with the primary objective of producing a monetary profit for a specific organization or individual, may not air on the GAC. This is not to preclude the incidental mention of a business or product, as part of a program where the primary purpose is to disseminate information of public benefit. Businesses, individuals, and organizations may be acknowledged for assistance in the production of a program or the provision of support for events or activities.
  2. Political Campaigning.
    The GAC will not be used for political campaigning by individuals or organizations seeking public office or enactment of legislation. Nor can this channel be used for the solicitation of political contributions. This is not to preclude the tape-delayed cablecasting of political debates for the offices of Township Commissioner and/or Township Treasurer as referenced in paragraph 7 of the Content and Production section of this policy, provided that fairness and equal time rules are followed.
     
    Except as noted in the preceding paragraph, a declared candidate for any political office shall not appear on the Township’s Government Access Channel during the forty-five (45) days preceding the date of a primary or primary runoff election and during the sixty (60) days preceding the date of a general or special election in which such person is a candidate. The preceding restriction does not apply to an appearance by a legally qualified candidate during:

    1. cablecast meetings of the body of which he or she is a sitting member;
    2. GAC coverage of a news event; or
    3. “public privilege of the floor” or “public comment” at a public meeting of the Board of Commissioners, a Committee of the Board of Commissioners or a meeting of a board or commission appointed by the Board of Commissioners.

  3. Encouragement of Legislative Action.
    Township encouragement of legislative action shall not be allowed except by a vote of the Board of Commissioners. Under extreme time constraints, the President, Vice-President, and appropriate committee chair shall make such a determination in the absence of the full Board.
  4. Lotteries.
    Information regarding private lotteries or promotions offering prizes based wholly or in part on chance will not be allowed.
  5. Religious Material.
    Programs generally considered religious in nature or that would advocate a particular religious belief will not be aired on the GAC. This shall not preclude the mention of religious organizations or ideas that may be mentioned incidentally as part of another program, nor shall it preclude the appearance of a member of the clergy or an individual representing a particular religion as part of a program providing general information.
  6. Obscenity.
    Every effort will be made to assure that all programs cablecast on the GAC meet community standards relative to obscenity.
  7. Other.
    The GAC will not air material which would violate any federal, state, or local law including copyright.

DISCLAIMER

The Board of Commissioners of the Township of Lower Merion and the Township Manager, the officers, employees and agents of the Township, shall not warrant the accuracy or timeliness of any information cablecast over the GAC and reserve the right to cablecast appropriate disclaimers as necessary.

Approved by the Board of Commissioners
August 2, 2000, Rev. July 21, 2004

Last updated: 4/29/2009 2:54:55 PM