Frequently Asked Questions

Where’s my Access Center?

If you go to our Interactive Flash Map (or Directory) of our state’s Community Media Access Centers (CMACs), you’ll find your closest CMAC, or at least the one that serves your town.

How many Access Centers are in Vermont?

There are 26, although one of them does not have a facility per se: it’s managed by an individual under contract to a local cable operator that serves the towns of Stowe and Cambridge and the village of Jeffersonville. All the rest are funded primarily by the cable television operator.

Where do these Community Media Access Centers get their funding?

The State of Vermont Public Service Board, which issues “certificates of public good (CPGs),” requires cable television operators to provide public, educational, governmental (PEG) access. The CPG’s PEG access conditions range from requiring the cable operator to designate qualified community groups to administer PEG access, to providing sustainable funding to those groups (access management organizations, or AMOs) to do so. Funding levels are negotiated by the individual AMOs in a multi-year contract with the cable operator, generally in terms of percentages of the cable television operator’s gross annual revenues. The contracts (called PEG Access Agreements) contain a number of other types of support as required under the cable operator’s CPG.

What can I do if I can’t get cable television service on my road but want to learn video production at a Community Media Access Center (CMAC)?

Depending on your circumstances, odds are you’d be able to do so. Go to the MAP of our state’s CMACs and click on your town. There you’ll be given information you can use to pursue your dream!

Even though cable TV service comes down my street, I don’t want to subscribe to it because I get my TV another way. Can I still use the services of my CMAC?

Yes. PEG Access centers do not discriminate on the basis of color, gender, citizenship, sexual preference, political orientation, religious belief or whether or not you’re a cable subscriber!

What kind of services do Community Media Access Centers provide?

The mission of a CMAC, in the most general terms, is to enable any individual or entity in its service territory to have a noncommercial presence in the electronic media. This has traditionally taken the form of free video equipment, training and channel time. Today, CMACs have expanded their equipment, training and channel time to include professional digital image acquisition, editing, studio facilities and Internet streaming.

You are Public Television, right?

Actually, no. The word “public” is in the official name of our field of communication (Public, Educational, Governmental Access), and both Public Television and PEG Access are non-commercial and nonprofit television. However, whatever the two have in common pretty much ends there. Without doing a comparative chart, the key differences are found in the word “access.” That is, in how and where the channels are distributed, whether or not a private citizen can produce a program themselves, and whether the content of the programs has to go through a gatekeeper or mediator in order to be distributed. A good way to think of the two fields is with two words: Broadcasting and Narrowcasting, with Public TV doing the former, and PEG access doing the latter.  We like to think we’re much more “public” as well as more hyper-local than Public Television.

Does it cost anything?

Everything’s free! Well, almost everything, because if you’re doing a program, you may want to buy special props or set pieces, pay for transportation or feed your crew, print posters or mail out invitations to see the program when it’s done, even take out an ad in the paper to publicize your efforts. But the basic field equipment, studio and computer video editing (and certification in its use) is free in most cases.

Can I watch your PEG channels on satellite?

No—that’s because satellite signal covers the entire state of Vermont and beyond, and there are 40 PEG Access television channels in Vermont programmed by 25 CMACs. Satellite services are not equipped to provide this hyper-local service the way cable television systems (and the Internet) are.