LAPA Leased Access Programmers Association

Some users of leased access airtime may be short changed by their cable operator.

A number of different cable site issues have risen since I last posted to our website so let me try to at least mention one of these that active LAPers may have encountered and persons seeking to become leased access programmers might come up against.

A site where I recently requested the standard leased access information, part-time rates, designated channel number and a sample agreement, instead sent me what must be their “commercial airtime contract” used for 'long-form' (feature length shows) they place on what is technically a 'local origination' channel. This “Commercial Use Programming Agreement” while citing “Section 612 of the Communications Act” was in conflict with the standard forms used by nearly all cable sites with a number of 'terms or conditions' FCC has ruled not applicable.

For starters this 'adhesion contract' had them withholding one minute each hour or half-hour show, which I imagine put the rate above the maximum allowable by FCC's formula where the total of all part time rates for a month cannot exceed the allowable monthly rate. Most LAPers buy time in bulk, by the half or full hour, meaning the full 69 minutes, add value by creating shows and use standard 30-second TV commercials to meet their business plan. This major cable operator by withholding time, deprives the LAPer of two of those 'spots'. Ironically cable operators today make a considerable portion of their income from the sale of 30-second commercials in available ad slots of network shows they carry.

Two of the zones in this particular cable system are very close to being filled with users and I'm guessing they've been cheating these users the valuable time for a very long time. If ever two or more of the users on this system compare notes (airtime contracts masqueraded as 'leased access agreements' and discover they've been shortchanged, it could perhaps find this particular cable system paying back thousands of dollars in ill-gotten funds.

If any reader feels they may not have the proper FCC supported leased access agreement, or that they may be subject to any type mistreatment by the cable operator, they're welcome to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , provide us information on how they think they may be treated wrongfully and we'll look into it, LAPA member or not.

Charlie Stogner

A Quick Overview of Leased Access

Here’s a quick overview of ‘leased access’ and how by exercising this little known law, programmers with no affiliation with the local cable operator must be provided airtime on a channel for commercial content free from any editorial control of the operator.

Rates for this airtime are normally based on ‘time of day’ with cable operators charging the highest ‘per hour’ price for evening time slots and the lowest during early AM.However, the total of all time slots when compiled for a full month cannot exceed a ‘per subscriber’ amount set by FCC.

Cable sites can, and most do, charge for technical assistance if of a type not provided other ‘non-leased’ programmers. This is usually an ‘insertion’ or handling fee for physically putting the program in whatever device they use to play the video for transmission to the channel.

Additionally FCC has long agreed operators can require LAPers (leased access programmers) to require the user to carry “Media Perils” insurance.

While the law and FCC rules have it appear this should be as simple and easy as securing a bulk mail permit and then meeting post office handling requirements when mailing, the fact is FCC is so lax in their administration it results in operators often hindering the actual use of airtime.

This is where our associationattempts to help by seeing that those enterprising television programmers desiring to avail themselves of the local distribution considered important enough by Congress to establish ‘leased access’ under Section 612 of the Communications Act, as amended (47 USC 532, 47 CFR 76.970 et seq.)

LAPA president Charlie Stogner’s StogTv network has an ‘affiliate’ program that secures the necessary agreements, provides the insurance and assists the local programmer in getting a show or shows on the cable site they choose.In addition, they can provide the infrastructure to bypass any local cable ‘insertion’ or handling fees as well as offering ‘live TV’ capability, separate from the airtime.

StogTv fees for both airtime access and technical support are scheduled to be less than it would cost a local programmer to deal direct with the cable site. There is a modest fee for becoming an affiliate and is to offset some of the expense in time required to get a formal leased access agreement with a local site and there is a minimum one-year lease on the equipment necessary for circumventing cable handling fees.

As president of LAPA (Leased Access Programmers Association), Stogner gladly provides basic information on what is needed for any prospective LAPer to secure airtime.If the prospect wishes to be an affiliate and have StogTv handle getting them on the cable site, then the affiliate fee is required in advance of any activity on their part.

Google's Groupon groping reveals the shifting power in the web world

First Yelp, now Groupon: Why hot startups -- especially those holding the key to "local" -- keep slipping through the search giant's fingers.

The article goes on to relate how Groupon, Facebook and others are helping refocus marketing to the local, micro-local level; for example being able to use Groupon to get a coupon from a local restaurant in your immediate area. Or find a local coupon via the Facebook site of the business.

It seems as if it is taking an exploding Internet program to force recognition that the very basis of media, the local town crier and then the hand printed and distributed flyer is ultimately the backbone of any economic model.

It seemed for a while national news services and widely circulated major city newspapers were going to drive small town, community based, newspapers out of existence.One could have thought satellite radio would be the death of local, especially AM but today it seems AM is experiencing a revival, fueled considerably by local Talk-Radio.

But what is being overlooked by far too many is that ‘leased access’ is the ultimate in being able to micro-target, especially if we succeed in getting the rules adopted by FCC in late 2007 out of court and into existence.

NCTA’s site (the national cable association) reports there were 7,677, down from 7,853 in 2008, and a high of 11,408 in 1988. The consolidation of cable systems and collapsing of headends is resulting in few opportunities to have local cable operations. However, as cable switches more and more to Internet delivery of video and even begins to permit advertisers to target specific subscribers, they’re playing our tune of truly local programming.

A few years back Time Warner succeeded in getting FCC’s then Cable Services bureau, to uphold them denying local site distribution of leased access in Houston, Tx. Saying their technology wouldn’t support it. However it wasn’t long before their Media sales, (ad insert) partners were promoting the idea of advertisers choosing zones. When they later collapsed a additional suburban site making the local leased access programmer going from $2,000 a month full time to over $211,500, the local programmer filed a ‘petition for relief’ to show FCC TimeWarner was not only doing what they said they could not, but was openly promoting it on their website.

Well, T/W decided in this case they could indeed continue to permit the LAPer to only distribute and pay for the small town system he was using.

The point is, FCC in the new rules adopted in late late 2007 and subsequently ‘stayed in federal court after the cable industry spent some $10 million to do so, had a rule to force cable operators to provide leased access channels in any area they had the technology to do so. Think about it. If cable can have a local subscriber order a show as VOD and show it on a TV set while also viewing this ‘subscribed to’ channels on others, it’s obvious they have the technology to provide channels at very targeted geographic areas.

If you want to know how StogTv now is able to provide ‘live’ TV programming for LAPers and offers a service where programmers do not have to purchase the expensive Media Perils insurance, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for info.

Time Warner Charge Borders Absurdity

Time Warner reached a new pinnacle in unreasonable charges when they billed WNTS Television, a StogTv affiliate, $40.00 for an hour of technical support to send them an email advising they would not be able to provide them any technical support.

A Sad Day for WNTS

It's a sad day for one television station, WNTS in rural Upstate New York.

The video server that was supposed to be installed within two weeks of delivery is still not operational today, seven weeks after it was shipped to the headend. On the Time Warner list of things to do, attention to this small independent broadcaster falls right below "Kick the Dog".

The station's plans to be utilizing the server over the last month have been unachievable, and today, October 1st, 2010, a major milestone for the small community station, plans for the first live broadcast, a fund raising telethon for the local "Meals on Wheels" organization, are ruined. Breaking the news that we would be unable to show the event was a sad and difficult task.

In spite of constant emails asking for assistance and information, requests remained unanswered for nearly four weeks.Even after receiving a response, getting any type of action has been agonizingly slow.

This delay has cost us a great deal of money from our advertisers and sponsors We are unable to offer local news, weather, and sports. Confidence in our station is waning, and a charitable organization that provides a much needed community service also has to suffer.I am disappointed, angry, embarrassed, and frustrated, and I hope we find a way to make the giant service providers like Time Warner realize the importance of responding the needs of the communities they serve.