Town Meeting TV Election Policies

Town Meeting TV Election Policies

Revised 11/01. Revised 10/07. Revised 10/09. Revised 6/12. Revised 6/16. Revised 4/17. revised for branding changes 6//20

2.5.1.1 Impartial Forum. It is the intention of Town Meeting TV to provide a fair, impartial forum for candidates and the discussion of election issues. Town Meeting TV will not endorse any candidate, issue or measure on a ballot. The Channel will use reasonable efforts to include all candidates in forums. 

2.5.1.2 Election Guidelines. Election programming guidelines are established by the Town Meeting TV Board of Trustees and are updated on a regular basis. The election guidelines detail programming conventions related to the coverage of candidates and the discussion of ballot items during primary, general and municipal elections (“election season”). 

2.5.1.3 Election Guideline Implementation. Town Meeting TV staff implements these guidelines under the direction of the Trustees. Complaints by users that arise from the implementation of these guidelines are to be addressed to the Chair of the Trustees. See also Grievance Procedure, Sec. 2.5.22. 

2.5.1.4 Publicize Guidelines. During election season and upon request, staff will make election guidelines available, in written and cablecast form, to the candidates, members of the public and channel producers in a timely manner. 

2.5.1.5 Air Schedules. All election forums will be posted to Town Meeting TV's web site www.ch17.tv Depending upon the availability of airtime on the channel itself, staff will make their best efforts to repeat election forums on Town Meeting TV. Election programs may be aired between four and eight times during the course of election season. The specific air times may be scheduled at the staff's discretion. 

2.5.1.6 Additional Information. For additional information about Town Meeting TV Election Guidelines contact the Channel Coordinator at 862-3966 x13. 

2.5.1.7 Conflict of Interest. Six weeks prior to Election Day, Town Meeting TV Trustees who are candidates running for election or re-election will abstain from decisions relating to their specific political race. Decisions will be deferred to an alternate representative. If one does not exist, the governing board of their member community will appoint an alternate. 

Definitions

2.5.2.0 Candidate. A candidate is any person who has publicly declared that they will stand for local, state or national election. A candidate will have announced their intention to run for election primary, general, town meeting or special elections. A person will be considered by Town Meeting TV to be a candidate if their announcement appears in the "media of record" and/or they file their intention to appear on the election ballot with appropriate government entity (e.g., local clerk's office, Secretary of State, federal election commission. 

2.5.2.2 Election Season. Period of time in which election guidelines apply. Coincide with black out periods for provision of production services and airtime, described below. Town Meeting TV's obligation to provide production services and channel airtime to candidates is subject to certain production and airtime restrictions. During these black out periods, candidates appearances are subject to Section 2.5.3.1, below. 

2.5.2.2.1 Production Black-Out Period.Town Meeting TV staff is not obliged to provide production services to any candidate 30 days prior to primary, general, town meeting or special elections. 

2.5.2.2.2 Airtime Black-Out Period.Town Meeting TV staff is not obliged to provide airtime on Town Meeting TV to any candidate 21 days prior to primary, general, town meeting or special elections. All election coverage will cease to be aired on Town Meeting TV twenty-four hours prior to the opening of the polling places on Election Day. 

2.5.2.2.3 Web Black-Out Period. There is no web "black-out" period. Programs that are produced before the Production Blackout Period may appear on www.ch17.tv through out the Airtime Black Out Period. 

Appearances on Behalf of Candidates and Ballot Items

2.5.3.1 Candidate Appearances During Election Season. During election season "black out period" candidates may appear on Town Meeting TV: 

  • a) as a participant in a Town Meeting TV election forum to which all candidates have been invited; 

  • b) as a participant in a Town Meeting TV election forum sponsored by entities other than Town Meeting TV; 

  • c) as an elected official carrying out their duties (e.g.,incumbent mayor, select board member or member of an administration); and/or 

  • d) as a participant in a public event that is typically covered by Town Meeting TV staff or volunteers and not subject to airtime restrictions. 

2.5.3.1.1 Uncontested Candidate Appearances During Election Season. Candidates who declare their intention to run in the General Election, but are uncontested in the Primary Election, may appear on Town Meeting TV during the Primary Election Season: 

  • a) as an elected official carrying out their duties (e.g.,incumbent mayor, select board member or member of an administration); and/or 

  • b) as a participant in a public event that is typically covered by Town Meeting TV staff or volunteers and not subject to airtime restrictions. 

  • c) as a guest on a 15 minute interview hosted by Town Meeting TV staff or in a comparable program produced by a Vermont community access center. 

2.5.3.2 National Candidates. Town Meeting TV staff and volunteers will cover appearances of national candidates when they appear in Chittenden County or within the state, if resources are available. 

2.5.3.3 Write-in Candidates. Write-in candidates must make themselves known not less than 10 days before a Town Meeting TV produced or co-produced forum in order to be included as a participant in that forum. 

2.5.3.4 Ballot Item Advocates. Advocates on behalf of a ballot items must make themselves known not less than 10 days before a Town Meeting TV produced or co-produced forum in order to be included as a participant in that forum. 

Election Forums

2.5.4.1 Town Meeting TV Forums. Top priority for the use of Town Meeting TV production resources is given to live election forums produced by Town Meeting TV staff, to which all candidates have been invited. These forums are typically scheduled in the month prior to Election Day and air live during Town Meeting TV’s regularly scheduled live program slot, are repeated on the air over the course of election season and posted on-line at www.ch17.tv 

2.5.4.2 Co-Produced Forums. To the extent that Town Meeting TV collaborates with Vermont media organizations or community based organizations to produce election forums, all candidates will be invited to attend. 

2.5.4.3 Prearranged Forums. Town Meeting TV may choose to record prearranged forums organized by non-aligned organizations or sponsors (other than Town Meeting TV), provided that all candidates have been invited to a Town Meeting TV forum or co-produced forum. Examples include League of Women Voters, local media outlets, neighborhood and professional associations. 

2.5.4.4 Notice of Election Forum. Forums will be organized with as much lead time as possible, but a minimum of one week’s notice shall be given to candidates. 

2.5.4.5 Moderators for the Forum. Non-partisan moderators designated by Town Meeting TV staff will conduct Town Meeting TV-produced election forums. 

2.5.4.6 Questions and Topics. Questions for the forum may be drafted by Town Meeting TV. Questions may be gleaned through review of local news, consultation with local officials and Town Meeting TV Trustees. Questions and topics will address issues of current public concern. Questions or topics may be sent to candidates for preview at least five days prior to the scheduled election forum. The moderator may also entertain questions from the viewing audience. Viewer calls take precedence over drafted questions. 

2.5.4.7 Format of the Forum. The Town Meeting TV forum will be conducted so that each candidate is given equal opportunity to respond to the questions posed by the moderator and by the viewing audience. The moderator may permit candidates to ask follow up questions. The moderator will make their best effort for each candidate to respond to questions posed by viewing audience (via phone or in person).

2.5.4.8 Absence from a Forum. Town Meeting TV makes its best effort to schedule live election debates so that all candidates can attend. If a candidate is not able to attend, Town Meeting TV is not obliged to provide alternative airtime.

Other Election Programming

2.5.5.1 Budgets and Ballot Items. Town Meeting TV staff will, to its best ability, make time available to member communities to present their budgets and Election Day ballot items to viewers. Community opponents or proponents of a budget or ballot item may request airtime to respond. Airtime will be scheduled based on availability and at staff discretion. 

Restrictions on Use

2.5.6.1 Restrictions on Use. If an individual appears on Town Meeting TV during election season, outside of a forum described above, they are discouraged from advertising or commenting on behalf of or opposing a particular political candidate. 

2.5.5.1 Pre-produced programs. Pre-produced programs submitted on behalf of a candidate after the Airtime Black-out Period begins will not be accepted for cablecasting on Town Meeting TV. This prohibition extends to citizens or producers who produce a regular program on Town Meeting TV. The regularly scheduled program will resume at the close of Election Day. 

2.5.5.2 Penalties. If an individual appears on Town Meeting TV during election season and advocates or opposes a candidate, their privilege will be revoked and they will not be permitted to appear on Town Meeting TV for 3 regularly scheduled programs or two months from the date of the transgression. (This excludes municipal coverage obligations if the candidate is an incumbent per Section 2.5.3.1, above). 

2.5.5.3 Discontinuing Prohibited Programming. To the extent that Town Meeting TV becomes aware that a current producer has violated the guidelines, Town Meeting TV reserves the right to discontinue airing their regular program without notice. (See "Penalties" Section 2.5.21, above). 

2.5.5.4 Grievances. If a candidate or sponsor of a ballot item believes that the Town Meeting TV guidelines have been violated, they will inform the Town Meeting TV Staff in writing. If they are not satisfied with Staff response, they may direct their complaint to the Chair of the Town Meeting TV Trustees. If the dispute falls outside of the guidelines detailed in this policy document, the Town Meeting TV Trustees may consider the matter at the Trustees’ meeting scheduled to occur after election season is completed. 

2.5.5.7  Town Meeting TV Action: Town Meeting TV shall have the right to demand the patron cease to use, produce or retransmit archive material which, in Town Meeting TV’s sole opinion, conflicts with,

interferes with or is detrimental to Town Meeting TV’s interests or reputation, or which might

subject Town Meeting TV to unfavorable publicity or regulatory action, or which may violate

any law, infringe the rights of any person, or subject Town Meeting TV to liability for any

reason. Upon notice from Town Meeting TV, the patron agrees to immediately cease the use,

production or retransmission of archive material.
 

Election Season Waiver

2.5.6.1 Waiver. By appearing on a Town Meeting TV forum, all producers and guests will be presumed to agree to the following waiver, acknowledging the receipt and understanding of the policy guidelines outlined in this document. The waiver states: 

"I have read and understand the guidelines and restrictions on the use of Town Meeting TV facilities and equipment during election season and agree to comply with these guidelines." 

The complete Town Meeting TV Policies may be found here.

Featured Story

August 11, 2020 Primary Night Results

For unofficial results on election night, visit the Vermont Secretary of State's election results page. Results reported for Federal, statewide, Senate and House Seats. https://electionresults.vermont.gov/Index.html#/ In September and October, Town Meeting TV will bring you live candidate forums for all federal, statewide and local elections.

Read more...

More News from the Center for Media and Democracy