Why Become A Member
Become a Member today, and build up the power of the only local community media connection in Northern Dakota County! At Town Square Television, you can meet great people while taping community events.
As a member, you are privileged to have access to our facility, equipment, training and staff assistance. Your 12-month membership also entitles you to several special benefits listed below.
Plus, you can feel great about helping Town Square Television continue bringing LOCAL community, faith, school, government, and business programs to cable television!
Residents and Non-Residents are welcome to use our facilities.
Residents are those who live, work or attend school in the cities of Inver Grove Heights, Lilydale, Mendota, Mendota Heights, South St. Paul, Sunfish Lake and West St. Paul.
Call us at (651) 352-6100 or contact us by e-mail for more membership information!
New Memberships and Renewals
Basic / Individual (Single)
- Register for equipment classes
- Use Town Square Television facility and equipment
- Request assistance with video competition entry fees
- Vote for Town Square Television Board members
- Gain eligibility to sit on Board
Make Your Own Show
Start to Finish, here is what you need to do for a show using one or two cameras and a small or no Crew:
Take the FREE Intro to Community TV Class, pay for a Town Square Television Membership, and take necessary certification classes. This may include Digital Field Production, Final Cut Pro Editing, Studio Production, Truck Production, or any advanced classes you may wish to take.
- Check-out a camera, then shoot your show!
- Reserve an Edit Suite, and edit your show!
- Burn the show onto a DVD or record it to a tape. We accept DVD, Mini-DV, and DVCPro formats as well as Mpeg2 Files (as long as they meet our Mpeg Secifications)
- Make sure the Town Square Television disclaimer is at the beginning of your program
- Fill out and sign the Cablecast Request form
- Submit the Cablecast Request form along with your DVD or tape to staff
- Tell all of your friends to watch your show!
*All program content is the responsibility of the User.
*Your program may be subject to federal, state, and local laws regarding libel, slander, obscenity, incitement, indecency, unlawful activities, invasions of privacy, copyright or other similar laws.
Produce A Program
Start to Finish, here is what you need to do for a Studio or Truck production, and Multi-Camera or Portable switcher production with a Large Crew:
- Take the FREE Intro to Community TV class, pay for a Town Square Television Membership, and take necessary classes. This may include Digital Field Production, Final Cut Pro Editing, Studio Production, Truck Production, or any advanced classes you may wish to take.
- Identify your event/program
- Reserve the necessary equipment for your production (If you need the truck, please, be sure to reserve it early, as production staff needs to adjust work schedules.)
- Publicize your program
- Plan your program
- Song Lists
- Available Audio Feeds
- Logos for Graphics
- Create appropriate Graphics
- Site Walk through
- Determine what crew you need
- Plan a rehearsal
- Round up some volunteers to work on your crew
- Train your Crew
- Record the program
- Edit your program (if necessary)
- Promote and Distribute your program.
*All program content is the responsibility of the User.
*Your program may be subject to federal, state, and local laws regarding libel, slander, obscenity, incitement, indecency, unlawful activities, invasions of privacy, copyright or other similar laws
Town Square Television recommends that any program, or show that is submitted for playback on our channels, should follow the following technical standards for accurate playback of your program.
Currently Town Square Television will accept the following formats for your program.
- Mpeg2 Files (as long as they meet our Mpeg Secifications)
Although we accept older analog formats (SVHS and VHS) - we recommend that you use a digital format (DVCPro, DVCAM, Mini-DV, or DVD) or an Mpeg2 file. With a digital format you can achieve a higher video and audio quality. You may also want to consider that older analog tape formats are becoming difficult to find and purchase. Down the road you may want to submit your program for playback again and we may not be able to play it, because the playback equipment is becoming rare, and is expensive to maintain.
You may reuse tapes (both digital and analog), but they will eventually wear out, become dirty, or become "wrinkled" - all of which can damage video playback equipment.
Your Program or Show
When a program or show is submitted to Town Square Television for playback we would like to see the following items in this order:
- 10 Second Countdown
- The Town Square Television Disclaimer
- Your Program - preferably approximately 28 Minutes, 58 Minutes, or 1 Hour and 28 Minutes
- Black after your program
The overall requirement for all of these items is that you have a constant, unbroken time code, and control track. Inconsistent time code or control track can dramatically increase the amount of time needed to prepare your program for playback in our Master Control. If your plan to have sponsors for your program, please review all policies and procedures regarding sponsorships - there are IRS guidelines which need to be followed.
Video Quality and Audio Quality
Your Video and Audio levels have a huge impact on the quality of your program. If ,for example, you have an audio level that is higher than recommended, your program will have "distorted" audio, which can be difficult for viewers to understand. Or, if you have a Video level that is too high, your camera shots can look overly bright and "washed out." When you are in the process of shooting and editing your program, it is very important to be sure to have these levels correct. Once you have an incorrect video or audio level, it can be difficult to correct later! Another reason to have good levels, is during playback of your program, you have one scene that has a very high audio level, and the next scene you have a very low audio level, the viewer at home is having to constantly adjust their television, because of the large contrast of going from something very loud to something very soft. Broadcast television stations are actually legally required to keep audio and video levels within a certain tolerance, for this very reason!
Below you can see the display of a wave-form monitor and a vectorscope. Your video levels should not exceed 100 IRE.
Below you will see a VU-Meter. This is used to measure the "loudness" of the audio. The goal is to have the average of your audio peaks at 0 db.
For those that would like to submit a DVD, we would prefer for your DVD to contain a menu, as it makes preparation of your program in our Master Control easier.
Unfortunately, programs have not played because of silly mistakes!
- Be sure to follow all applicable Policies and Procedures - specifically regarding Sponsors.
- Label your tape or DVD, and double check your tape or DVD before you submit it.
- Create a backup copy of your program.
- If you are shipping or mailing your program, use padded envelopes and strong tape or DVD cases
Policies and Procedures
1. Operating Guidelines
1.1 A "User" is defined as a person who has been certified by Town Square Television and makes proper application for access equipment, facilities, and/or channel time or submits access programming for cablecast.
1.2 The availability and administration of access equipment, studio, van and the public access is the responsibility of the Town Square Television Executive Director.
1.3 Training, equipment and facility use, and programs submitted for cablecasting are scheduled on a non-discriminatory, first-come, first-served basis.
1.4 Requests for channel time may be made up to six weeks in advance and up to three cablecasts per week.
1.5 Series programming will be scheduled in the same manner as all other programming, on a non-discriminatory first-come, first-served basis.
1.6 When using the Control Room and Studio, Users may use two free DVCPro tapes that are to remain at Town Square Television for use, only in the Control Room. Up to two copies of their access program can be made and Users must supply their own videotape for these copies. Users may also make up to four DVD copies of their own program and must supply their own DVDs.
1.7 (a) Town Square Television will not exercise editorial control over the content of any User's program. Town Square Television does not assume responsibility for viewing programs. All program content is the responsibility of the User. Any program will be cablecast unless it is known that it violates parts (b) and/or (c) below.
(b) Access equipment, facilities, and channels may not be used for the presentation or production of material designed to promote the sale of commercial products or services or the dissemination of any information in contravention of Section 5 of this Policy (Sponsorship) or directly or indirectly involving lotteries as defined in Section 76.213 of the Rules of Federal Communications Commission.
(c) Federal law provides that any person who transmits obscene programming or programming unprotected by the Constitution over cable systems may be fined and imprisoned. Moreover, Users may be subject to federal, state, and local laws regarding libel, slander, obscenity, incitement, invasions of privacy, copyright or other similar laws. The access channels may not be used to present material which violates federal, state, or local law.
(d) Violations of Section 1.7 (b)-(c) may result in cancellation of the User's program, or in the case of repeated violations of the Policy, suspension of the privilege of the User to use access facilities, equipment and channels, in accordance with the procedures set forth in Section 2.4.
2. TOWN SQUARE TELEVISION RESPONSIBILITY
2.1 Town Square Television will offer regularly scheduled workshops in video production.
2.2 Users who successfully demonstrate proficiency and/or successfully complete a workshop will be certified.
2.3 Video equipment and facilities will be provided for use to certified Users and will be maintained by Town Square Television.
2.4 If the Executive Director determines that a User's program violates Section 1.7, or that a User has damaged access equipment or facilities, failed to return equipment, or failed to comply with Town Square Television policies, the Executive Director (a) shall notify the User of the violation; and (b) may suspend access privileges as required to prevent further violations of the Policies and to protect access equipment and facilities. If the Executive Director suspends the User's access privileges on a temporary or permanent basis, the Executive Director (a) shall immediately notify the User in writing, explaining the reason for the suspension and the process for appeal; and (b) shall inform the Board of Directors of the action taken at its next regularly scheduled Board meeting. Any User may appeal a notice of violation or suspension by appealing to the Board at its next regularly scheduled Board meeting. The Board shall provide the User the opportunity to offer any relevant information and will issue a decision on the appeal within 45 days. If a User appeals a suspension of access privileges, the suspension will remain effective until the Board issues its decision on the appeal
2.5 (a) Any User found to have violated Section 1.7(b) shall be required to compensate Town Square Television for commercial use of the access facilities, equipment and channels at a rate equal to 1.5 times the prevailing commercial rate for use of similar facilities, equipment and channels.
(b) In the event these rules are violated, the User(s) involved in the production of a program, by virtue of using the access equipment, facilities, or channels pursuant to these rules, shall be deemed to have transferred all rights, including copyright in the resulting program exclusively to Town Square Television for purposes of distribution, reproduction, sale or display or any other use by any medium, which rights shall re-transfer when and if the User(s) involved in the production of the program pay(s) all amounts owed to Town Square Television under this section.
2.6 Programs accepted for cablecasting will be cablecast at least once, unless it is known that a program violates Section 1.7. Town Square Television reserves the right to cablecast any program more than one time.
2.7 Town Square Television will not release a User's program nor any portion of the program without written permission of the User.
3. ACCESS USER RESPONSIBILITY - GENERAL
3.1 A User must be certified by Town Square Television staff in the use of any equipment or facility requested before the User will be permitted to use the equipment or facility. A User may become certified by successfully completing appropriate workshops offered by Town Square Television. If a User who requests to use a piece of equipment or facility has not successfully completed a workshop or a production involving the use of the requested equipment or facility effectively within six months, the Town Square Television staff may require the User to take a refresher workshop.
3.2 A User must submit a Production Proposal to Town Square Television staff at least 24 hours before use of equipment or facilities, for portable equipment, and at least two (2) weeks before use of studio or production truck. In the case of LIVE programming, a User must submit a Production Proposal and Cablecast Request form at least four (4) weeks in advance. (See Section 4.)
3.3 A User must submit a Cablecast Request form and completed program to the Town Square Television staff when reserving channel time. For LIVE programming, a User must submit a completed Cablecast Request form and a completed Production Proposal at least four (4) weeks in advance. (See Section 4.) The privilege of LIVE programming will be granted at the discretion of Town Square Television Executive Director and is contingent upon channel, equipment, and facility availability and User's completion of all pre-production requirements.
3.4 If a program requires editing, the User is responsible for developing a pre-edit guide, and should complete editing work on the program within 60 days of the recording date. If work is not completed within 60 days, Town Square Television may release the tapes and/or other recording media for reuse by other Users.
3.5 Users should recognize that equipment may not be available for use on short notice. To ensure that equipment is available, Users should reserve equipment at least two weeks in advance of the anticipated date of usage.
3.6 (a) Users must sign a liability agreement at the time of equipment check-out, assuming full responsibility for any damage to or loss of equipment or production facilities while in control of the User.
(b) A parent or legal guardian of minors must sign the liability agreement that covers equipment and facilities damage and loss. Minors will also be required to have a parent or legal guardian sign at time of equipment checkout.
3.7 Users may reserve equipment for five checkouts each month and otherwise may use equipment if it is not scheduled for use by others. Equipment is forfeited after 15 minutes if user fails to arrive for scheduled reservation. Staff may reassign equipment for use by other staff or other access users. Equipment must be returned at the time designated on the Equipment Checkout form. One checkout consists of a 48-hour period (Mon-Fri) or a 3-day period (Fri-Mon).
3.8 Portable equipment can be checked in and out during Town Square Television's posted check-in/check-out hours.
3.9 Failure to provide 24-hour advance notice of cancellation of a request for equipment or use of production facilities or to return Town Square Television equipment as scheduled may result in the loss of scheduling privileges as stated in Sections 2.4 and 2.5.
3.10 In the event equipment is damaged or lost, payment for the full amount of repair or replacement must be made within 30 days of the damage or loss, or satisfactory arrangements made with the Executive Director for the reimbursement of Town Square Television of such loss or damage. Failure to pay within the prescribed period of time will result in the User's loss of equipment and facility privileges.
3.11 User will bear full responsibility for all program content. User will assume responsibility to obtain all necessary rights to program production materials. This includes all necessary literary, artistic, intellectual, performing, and music rights as well as all necessary clearances from the owners or licensees of such material. User must be able to document, in writing, that the cablecasting of such material does not violate the rights of a third party, including the privacy rights of a third party. Each User (or the parent or guardian of any User who is a minor) shall sign an agreement accepting responsibility for program content at the time the User reserves time on the channel.
3.12 The User shall indemnify and hold harmless Town Square Television, the Northern Dakota County Cable Communications Commissions (NDC4), and the franchised cable operator(s) serving Northern Dakota County from and against any damages, liabilities, and costs of any nature including attorney fees and disbursements arising out of or resulting from any action related in any way to User's use of the access channels or Town Square Television's equipment and facilities. This includes, but is not limited to, any damages and liabilities and cost which may arise as a result of User's failure to abide by the Policies and Procedures. Each User (and any parent or guardian of any User who is a minor) shall sign an indemnity agreement at the time the User reserves time on the access channel, checks out equipment or reserves studio time.
3.13 User shall not interfere in the production and/or studio usage time of another person.
3.14 No tobacco use, eating, or drinking is allowed at any time in the control room, studio, editing suites, or mobile van.
3.15 A User who appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or whose conduct endangers the safety of people or facilities, or who engages in any illegal activity while using access equipment or facilities or on Town Square Television property, will be prohibited from using the access channels and facilities.
4A. ACCESS USER RESPONSIBILITY - STUDIO PRODUCTION RESPONSIBILITIES
In addition to the rules set forth above, any person who desires to use the studio for an independent production, must comply with the following rules:
4a.1 The User must be certified in studio production and must provide a crew that has been studio production certified.
4a.2 A User must submit a Production Proposal to Town Square Television staff at least two (2) weeks before use of studio. In the case of LIVE programming, the User must submit a Production Proposal and Cablecast Request form at least four (4) weeks in advance.
4a.3 The User must provide any props required for the set.
4a.4 The User may reserve up to ten hours per month of studio time, including set-up and strike time, and otherwise may use the studio if it is not being used by others.
4a.5 No unauthorized persons will be permitted in the studio/control room during the production.
4a.6 Users assume responsibility for obtaining necessary rights in and to program production materials, as required in Sections 3.11 and 3.12.
4a.7 Studio time may not be available on short notice. To best ensure that studio time is available, requests for studio time should be made at least four (4) weeks in advance. Studio time can be scheduled during Town Square Television's regular operating hours.
4a.8 The User is responsible for returning the studio to its original configuration.
4a.9 A Town Square Television or NDC4 staff person must be present during use of the studio.
4B. ACCESS USER RESPONSIBILITY - TRUCK PRODUCTION RESPONSIBILITIES
In addition to the rules set forth above, any person who desires to use the truck for an independent production, must comply with the following rules:
4b.1 The truck is for community-based events productions, and is generally not available for series programming. Town Square Television staff will determine the truck production schedule and availability. Requests for truck productions outside of Northern Dakota County will be considered on a case by case basis. Additional charges to be borne by user may apply.
4b.2 The User must be certified in truck production and must provide a crew that has been truck production certified.
4b.3 A User must submit a Production Proposal to Town Square Television staff at least two (2) weeks before use of the truck. In the case of LIVE programming, the User must submit a Production Proposal and Cablecast Request form at least four (4) weeks in advance.
4b.4 The User must provide any props required for the set.
4b.5 The User may reserve up to ten hours per month of truck time, including set-up and strike time.
4b.6 No unauthorized persons will be permitted in the truck during the production.
4b.7 Users assume responsibility for obtaining necessary rights in and to program production materials, as required in Sections 3.11 and 3.12.
4b.8 Truck time may not be available on short notice. To best ensure that truck time is available, requests for truck time should be made at least four (4) weeks in advance. Truck time can be scheduled during Town Square Television's regular operating hours.
4b.9 The User is responsible for returning the truck to its original configuration.
4b.10 A Town Square Television or NDC4 staff person must be present during use of the truck. Town Square Television staff will determine whether to cancel or suspend truck productions before or during a shoot due to weather conditions or other factors.
5.1 Sponsorship is defined as goods, services, or grants in aid of production provided to a program producer by a third party. Failure to follow Sponsorship Guidelines will result in the program being withdrawn from channel playback. Violations of Sponsorship Guidelines are covered in Section 2 of Town Square Television's Policies & Procedures. Sponsorship must meet IRS Guidelines. See addendum to Section 5 "IRS Sponsorship Guidelines."
There are two methods for acknowledging sponsors:
(a) METHOD 1 -- An acknowledgment of sponsorship may be made, but any acknowledgment of sponsorship shall me made only in writing at the end of the program in the same type-style as the other program credits. The acknowledgment shall be stated as follows: "Special Thanks To (name of sponsor)" for (goods, services, or support provided); or "This program made possible by a grant from (name of sponsor)." No business name, logo or brand identification can be displayed or mentioned during a program in exchange for goods, services or a grant in aid of production.
(b) METHOD 2 -- Any User who wishes to acknowledge sponsors on programs under "Method 2" of the Town Square Television Policies and Procedures may be certified for Sponsorship Solicitation and Acknowledgment (SSA) by Town Square Television staff by attending an SSA workshop, offered on a scheduled basis, similar to other certification classes.
Programming Guidelines for acknowledgments at the beginning or end of access programs:
All acknowledgments at beginning or end of program, or during natural breaks if the program is LIVE or over 1 hour. Maximum of 60 seconds per half hour of programming No more than 15 seconds for one sponsor acknowledgment. No more than 60 seconds before or after a single program. Town Square Television may require a set amount of program time to be reserved for Town Square Television sponsor acknowledgments or promotions (10 seconds per half hour of programming).
Format for acknowledgments on Channel 15:
- Town Square Television Sponsor Acknowledgments or Promotions
- Town Square Television Disclaimer "Producer is responsible for content of program."
- Producer Sponsor Acknowledgments
- Credit Roll
- Producer Sponsor Acknowledgments
Natural break examples: Intermission, dead air, and between quarters or periods
5.2 Any User who produces a program concerning a service or product which the User sells commercially or which the User has a direct or indirect financial interest in promoting may not mention the cost of the product or service, where or how it may be purchased, or include an acknowledgment for any business which offers the product or service in which the User has a direct or indirect financial interest.
Addendum to Section 5 IRS SPONSORSHIP GUIDELINES
OK Logo/Slogan (Logo or slogan that is an established part of the sponsor's identity is NOT considered to contain comparative or qualitative descriptions) Sponsor Locations Sponsor Telephone Numbers Value-neutral descriptions including display, visual depictions of sponsor's product line or services Brand/trade name product or service listings
NOT OK Promote the sponsor's products, services, and/or facilities Comparative or qualitative descriptions of products, services, facilities, or company Price information or other indications of savings/value Call to action Endorsement Inducement to buy, sell, rent or lease product or service. (Distribution of the sponsor's product to the general public at the sponsored event is NOT considered "inducement")
Mpeg Encoding Specs
• MPEG-2 Program Stream (consisting of a single elementary video stream with an optional single elementary audio stream)
• 720 x 480 (Horizontal x Vertical). Other resolutions are not supported.
• Picture rate must be 29.97 pictures per second.
• A maximum bit rate of 10 Mb/s is allowed. Higher rates are not supported.
• National TV Standards Committee (NTSC)
• 4:2:0 sampling format required. (Main profile at Main or Low level, 10 Mb/s max)
• IBBP group of pictures (GOP) structure recommended for best quality (30 frame maximum GOP size).
• Encode header information in stream every few seconds to aid in error recovery.
• Audio, if present, must be encoded into the MPEG file using MPEG-1 Audio layer II format.
• Audio encoded at a 44.1 KHz sampling frequency.
• MPEG filenames may contain up to 27 characters (no spaces) in addition to the required ".mpg" extension
• Audio must be leveled at -16dB for broadcast.