Public access television is a cable television service that allows members of the public to use a cable company's facilities and equipment to create and broadcast their own content. This service is provided to the public free of charge on a first-come, first-served, non-discriminatory basis, and there are very lax censorship rules. However, funding for public access is typically very limited, so material broadcast on such channels is often of very low quality. However, public access TV can be an important outlet for the interests of underserved groups within a community. Occasionally, terrestrial (over-the-air) broadcasters also provide time for public access programming.
Public access is one of the main types of local origination services from cable TV providers. Related to public access are government and educational access, and also leased access television, which allows for programming of a more commercial nature.
The most famous public access program is an entirely fictitious one, Wayne's World, which was a sketch on Saturday Night Live that later became a movie. Some public access channels carry nationally-distributed programs. A good example of this would be Free Speech TV's Democracy Now!, which airs in many places across the United States.
Occasionally, public access shows gain enough of a following for local broadcasters to take notice, and some shows have ended up going over the airwaves their communities. A PBS program called Mental Engineering claims to be the first American show to originate on public access TV, find its way to a local station, and finally end up being broadcast nationally over the air. It started at the public access channel of Saint Paul, Minnesota, was picked up by KTCA, and had an episode broadcast across the U.S. after Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002.
Publicaccess TV, also called cable access, communityaccess, community television, and PEG (Public, Education and Government), is a system that provides television production equipment, training and airtime on a local cable channel, so members of the public can produce their own shows and televise them to a mass audience.
According to Engelman, publicaccess in New York was conceived in 1968 by Fred Friendly, a television advisor to the Ford Foundation and chairman of Mayor John Lindsay's Advisory Task Force on CATV and Telecommunications.
Publicaccess television is not at all restricted to the United States and Canada.
While publicaccess to this electronic archive has the potential to help the lay public see the breadth of the research that NIH funds, each NIH Institute and Center also has an active staff that assist the public in understanding the results of NIH-funded research.
Before the PublicAccess Policy, individuals who were not affiliated with an academic, medical library or research hospital generally gained access to the peer-reviewed publications of NIH-funded investigators by visiting a medical library or by paying for a subscription to journals themselves.
PublicAccess submissions will provide NIH-supported investigators with an alternate means by which they can fulfill the existing requirement to provide publications as part of progress reports and other application and close-out procedures.
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