LAPA Leased Access Programmers Association

Introduction to Seeking Leased Access

Okay, let's see if and how I may help you.

You mention leasing time on "broadcast' channels. To do this you would have to contact either the national 'broadcast' networks or their local cable market  affiliate, i.e. NBC corporate, NBC (whatever market) many local broadcast affiliates are part of chain operations by media companies.

It's easy to confuse 'broadcast' with cable networks, those networks delivered via satellite (TNN, CNN, FoxNews) Discovery, etc.) that do not require an FCC license since they're not using airwaves.

At the local level, apart from the cable operator offering 'spot' ads (30 second commercials) in national satellite networks and/or dealing with the local 'broadcast' affiliate, you find PEG channels (Public, Educational and Government) that exist only if they're made part of the cable franchise. If the local franchising authority does not make this part of the franchise agreement they do not exist...there is none.  If the do exist, there are restrictions on what can be aired on each. Primarily Public is just that, a channel used by local show producers and these cannot contain commercial content, i.e., 'spot' ads, endorsements, sponsorships, or of an 'infomercial' type produced to have viewers make a purchase of a product or service, etc. Educational is supposed to be just that as well as Government only airing non-commercial content. This is sometimes breached but this seldom and the 'offending' party can be made to stop.

There's 'local origination', a channel or channels that belong solely to the cable operator and exist on the particular system. Not all sites operate LO but it's their channels and beyond FCC and any other government or contractual requirement the local operator can give away the time or sell time on the channel for whatever rate they desire. While they may sell feature length time to a programmers, the retain  complete control over what they allow to be aired, the time used, etc.

Then there's 'Leased Access', airtime on channels every cable site with more than 36 active channels is required by a special U.S. law to carry. Since 1964, all cable sites. pursuant to Section 612 of the Communications Act of 1934 as amended (the “Act”) , must 'set aside' a percentage of channels for use by programmers unaffiliated with the cable ownership and at rates controlled by an FCC formula. While 'leased access' is available to any and all ' there are some 'bumps in the road' in exercising this right and securing airtime on a channel at a site. This is very 'site specific', meaning to secure time on a site, one must first identify the site (by location)   Indentifying and contacting the individual responsible for handling leased access at a local site is sometimes a time-consuming task. Once the site can be contacted, a  formal request for rates and other basic information for using time on the site must be requested.

Those seeking leased access information directly from the cable site need to be aware that far too often the material they receive is inaccurate and/or contains an 'application' form created by the cable ownership that implies if you don't submit the completed form, they may not allow you to secure airtime. This is not a form or material FCC says they're entitled to.  They ask a number of questions that have them infringing on editorial content (something the law itself forbids them to do) as well as privileged financial information they have no right to or need for, especially if the applicant is prepaying airtime and not seeking an extension of credit.

It is suggested that once one has the rate and basic leased access material from the cable operator (site) they contact LAPA (the Leased Access Programmers Assn) and have someone go over the material with them.  This is done by the association for the protection of any leased access programmer to protect the integrity of the law, something FCC is not inclined to do.