Policies

INTRODUCTION
Seattle Channel is a government-access cable channel granted to the city of Seattle. The channel belongs to the residents of Seattle and exists to inform and involve them in government, civic and community affairs. It is the goal of Seattle Channel to provide a multimedia program service for the city of Seattle, its residents, officials and staff. Seattle Channel is both a 24-hour-a-day cable channel (channel 21 on Comcast, 321 HD, and Wave, 721 HD), and an interactive website www.seattlechannel.org. Seattle Channel strives to produce compelling content that informs residents about city issues, resources and services. Seattle Channel works to help residents get the information they need to engage in civic dialogue, to make civic decisions and participate in the life of the city.

SEATTLE CHANNEL PRINCIPLES
The channel is part of the Office of Electronic Communications in the Department of Information Technology and is administered by a general manager. Seattle Channel has independence in programming decisions and shall not be subjected to editorial control beyond the guidance provided by this document. Programming and scheduling decisions will be non-partisan, equitable and determined on content. The general manager is responsible for the production, acquisition, scheduling and cable casting of programs on the channel and for operating the Seattle Channel website and facilities in accordance with the policies and priorities spelled out in this document. The general manager's responsibilities include managing the staff and production facilities. The general manager executes policy, establishes procedures and determines programming for the TV channel and website.

SEATTLE CHANNEL MISSION
To inform and engage residents in the civic, cultural and community affairs of Seattle through the compelling use of television, the web and other media.

SEATTLE CHANNEL OBJECTIVES
The objectives of The Seattle Channel are:

  • A commitment to use our facilities to foster an informed and active citizenry, by reflecting the activities of city of Seattle government, its communities and its culture.
  • A commitment to create two-way communication between city government and its residents producing programming that informs, educates, enlightens and encourages participation in government activities and decision making.
  • A commitment to encourage debate, discussion and a diversity of viewpoints on local issues, and to disseminate and support programs and events that might not otherwise be available to Seattle residents.
  • A commitment to be mindful of the interests and concerns of ethnic minorities and other special audiences. We make a concerted effort to bring the views and interests of these groups into our programming.
  • A commitment to providing information about Seattle city government and to serve as a forum for ongoing dialogue on issues pertaining to public policy and city government services and programs.

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SEATTLE CHANNEL PROGRAMMING POLICIES
Our programming purpose is to inform and engage Seattle's residents in the governmental, community and cultural affairs of Seattle through compelling use of our television and internet resources. We will offer a "window on government" by providing unedited coverage of City Council meetings and mayoral speeches and press conferences. We will illuminate and explain public issues. We will convene discussion and offer analysis of local and regional issues. We will create opportunities for dialogue between city officials and residents through forums, debates, social media, e-mail, etc. We will inform residents about community and cultural opportunities. We will strive to be accurate, fair and useful.

Accuracy
Our policy is to assure that program content is presented accurately and in context. Accuracy is insured by monitoring program content through a chain of responsibility from producer to operations manager to general manager.

Objectivity and Fairness
Maximum objectivity is one of our most important goals. Commentary, points of view or opinion will be identified as such. Seattle Channel reporters and producers will not express personal opinions on public affairs matters. We will air programs that contain a fair and accurate representation of facts.

Balance
Every attempt will be made to identify important areas of public debate, and to provide all significant parties to a controversy an opportunity to participate in public affairs programming. Fairness and balance will always be the Seattle Channel's objective in such programming. However, the reasonable limits to the length of most programs are such that there will be occasions when fairness and balance must be achieved over time, rather than in a single program. In those instances where it is impossible to give adequate attention to differing sides on one given program, every effort will be made to present these points of view on subsequent programs.

Methodology
The General Manager, Operations Manager, Production Manager, and Senior Producer meet weekly to select and review possible programs for the Seattle Channel. This group assesses programming plans, suggestions and requests according to the Seattle Channel criteria, policies and objectives.

Viewer Feedback
We are strongly committed to providing ways for viewers and citizens to express opinions or present information about programs or topics addressed on our programs and website. We actively encourage audience and user feedback and respond to all inquiries.

Community Needs
Ascertainment of the community's needs and interests is an on-going and important activity of The Seattle Channel. Management and staff will make numerous contacts with community institutions and individuals, ascertaining their needs and interests. Staff involved in acquiring, producing and scheduling programs work to insure these needs and interests are considered carefully in the decision-making process.<?

Editorial Integrity
Seattle Channel programming must reflect the public trust in the editorial integrity of our content. To maintain that trust, we are responsible for shielding the programming process from pressure or improper influence from outside sources. Programming choices will be based on editorial criteria, and not based on overt influence from individuals or groups with vested interests. We will not create program material conditional on editorial control or review of specific content.

A variety of considerations are involved in the programming of The Seattle Channel. Judgments concerning the appropriateness of programming for The Seattle Channel schedule involve both editorial and non-editorial considerations. The final decision as to whether a program is produced or included in the program schedule relates to the professional judgment of the Seattle Channel management, which must ensure that the program meets the Seattle Channel program policies.

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Programming Priorities
Specific programming priorities for The Seattle Channel include:

  • Emergency information involving public safety and health;
  • Public proceedings and meetings involving officials of The City of Seattle, including both the Mayor and City Council;
  • Programs that explain policies and programs of the City of Seattle and that solicit Citizen input on these policies and programs;
  • Issues of significance in Seattle's neighborhoods and communities;
  • Public meetings of other government agencies about public policy issues relevant to Seattle citizens;
  • Programs that feature cultural and historic aspects of the city and its citizens;
  • And other programs of general interest to the citizens of Seattle.

Editing
Meetings of elected City official bodies cable cast on the Seattle Channel shall not be edited for content. Coverage shall be provided gavel to gavel whenever possible. Programs produced in the studio that summarize legislative activity may include edited segments of meetings previously shown in their entirety.

Elections
Candidates for election or re-election to a publicly held office shall not be provided access to the Seattle Channel or its facilities prior to the election for that office, except in the normal course of their official duties. Candidates may appear on the Seattle Channel in political candidate forums and video voter guides in which all candidates have equal opportunity to participate. The applicable definition and determination of whether someone is a candidate shall be that used by the City of Seattle's Ethics and Elections Commission.

Endorsements, Underwriting
The Seattle Channel shall not be used to endorse an issue, company or product, with the following exceptions: a company or organization may be recognized on the website or at the beginning and/or end of a program for support of programming on the Seattle Channel.

Copyright and Other Program Restrictions
Programs containing copyrighted materials will be used only if copyright clearance has been obtained. The ownership and copyright for any program produced by the Seattle Channel shall be held by the City of Seattle. Original or taped copies of any program produced by the Seattle Channel may be made available to other stations or channels for newscasts or other appropriate programs. Programs that meet the legal definition of obscenity, or which are defamatory shall be prohibited.

Tape Retention and Duplication
Videotapes of public meetings are not the official public record, and there shall be no liability for inadvertent erasures or omissions. Tapes are re-used in the normal course of business. Timely requests for copies of public meetings will be accommodated by copying available programs at a reasonable fee to cover costs.

MORE INFORMATION
Comments, suggestions, and questions are always welcome. For more detailed information about our policies or to voice your thoughts, please contact us by emailing contact@seattlechannel.org.

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