SF Commons’ mission is to offer San Francisco public access to local broadcast without barriers to the training and equipment they need to get their message out. We support multimedia and multiform storytellers who can catalyze social change and curate a diverse, creative local community TV channel that represents a diverse spectrum of voices and forms.
How To Get Started
Public Access television has a vibrant and storied history in San Francisco. Would you like to contribute your work as an artist, journalist, storyteller, activist, teacher, community member, to public access TV? No show is turned away, and we offer our services to help you develop the skills to create broadcast-ready content. We are always excited to host new faces and voices to support broad and diverse communities in our city to tell their stories. Want to learn more or sign up? There are only 3 requirements:
- You or your organization have a San Francisco address
- Join BAVC Media as a member
- Sign up for an orientation to learn more and get started
Once you sign up for an orientation, you’ll watch a video on your own time, and then join us for a live Q&A session online (or in person if we’re open).
That’s it, all you have to do after that is email us a link to your show!
Not quite ready to send us a video? After your orientation, we are available to help you start your show and walk you through sending us your video for scheduling on TV. Staff is available to support you with production, editing, and uploading.
For more information, contact Javan Jiles, SF Commons Producer Relations: email@example.com or 415-558-2125.
SF Commons offers a wide variety of services to its members, including a regularly-scheduled timeslot on local cable channel 29, access to the equipment and services it takes to create a television show, and membership to a community of unique and gifted local producers.
Frequently Asked Questions
SF Commons is San Francisco Public Access television, housed at BAVC Media since 2009. Through a grant agreement with the City Department of Technology, SF Commons is able to provide access to video equipment, a television studio, low-cost trainings and a time-slot on cable TV for any current city resident who wants to produce a show. In conjunction with SFGOVTV and EATV, we provide public, educational, and government television services for San Francisco residents, ensuring that locally-produced, non-commercial media remains an essential component to free expression and engagement at a local level.
Meet the Producers
At SF Commons, any resident or organization can receive free or low-cost training, access to equipment, and studio space to make a show and get their message out there.
Our local producers create media that matters to them and their communities covering a wide range of issues, topics and interests. Content is broadcast locally on cable channels 29 and 76, and streamed online. Anyone can make a show about anything they want. Learn how you can get started →
Services for Individual Producers
The Producer community is the heart of SF Commons. Many of our veteran Producers have been making television for 20-plus years in San Francisco. Some of the services available to active Producers include (some services may be suspended due to COVID-19 closures):
- Access to production equipment and postproduction facilities
- Free certification trainings for full access to this equipment
- A dedicated time slot on Channel 29
- Community and staff support to grow your idea into a television show
- Occasional Producer workshops on various topics
- Access to audio recording/podcasting booth
- Access to live studio
One free public class at BAVC Media per year and 50% off three more
Services for Nonprofit Organizations
San Francisco-based nonprofits (NPOs) that join SF Commons are eligible for timeslots on Channel 76 to show regularly-occurring episodes, PSAs, or specials showcasing their organization’s work. NPOs also have the following opportunities available through membership with SF Commons:
- Public access television is a community service for local nonprofits
- Get your message out on local cable television and the web
- Create public service announcements to promote events and issues
- Low cost video training for your staff and volunteers
- Access to training, production and postproduction facilities, and support
- Participation in an annual “PSA Day” to produce public service announcements for your nonprofit
Workshops and Certifications
SF Commons offers four free workshops specifically tailored to helping Producers get started with their shows: Production & Equipment; Live Studio; Audio Booth; and Adobe Premiere (postproduction/editing).
You must be certified in order to check out equipment or book time to use the studio or audio recording booth.
Production Gear Rentals
Camera kits, audio equipment, tripods and light kits are available for check-out by active, certified Producers. Reservations may be made up to one month in advance, for up to three consecutive days. Producers may hold up to three reservations at a time. To extend a current reservation, you must obtain written approval by staff before the equipment is due, otherwise it will be considered a late return. Three late returns will result in a suspension of check-out privileges.
Staff can accept your show submissions in a variety of digital formats, including MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and MOV file formats. This may be done in the facility at one of the dropoff stations (Front Lobby station or Access Lab workstations). Staff can also accommodate email dropoffs if special arrangements are made.
ALL shows, no matter the dropoff method, must be received by staff 48 hours in advance of your timeslot. For Producers with timeslots during our non-program hours (Sunday & Monday), we MUST receive your shows by Friday & Saturday respectively in order to guarantee playback of your show during its proper timeslot.
All active Producers may work on materials for their shows in the Access Lab, a computer lab with five edit stations running Final Cut Pro 7 and X, iMovie, and Adobe Premiere Pro CC. There are two additional DV/mini DV dubbing stations available for use (appointments encouraged). Access Lab hours are drop in, first come-first serve, during SF Commons Program Hours. Producers in the lab during peak hours who are not working on content for SF Commons shows may be asked to give up their station to others if needed.
Though no training is required for use of the Access Lab, staff can only offer limited assistance to Producers. Post-Production Training & Certification workshops are highly recommended for all Producers editing shows in the lab.
SF Commons Program Hours
COVID-19 UPDATES: As of March 8, 2021, you can now book limited times in the studio or check out equipment! The Access Lab will also re-open for 2-hour time slots later in March (check back for updates). Accessing the facility is by reservation only. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info or to book.
- Staff is available during COVID-19: Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm by emailing email@example.com or the relevant team member directly.
- Dropping off media: In-person dropoff is suspended during COVID-19 closures
- Use this email address specifically for uploading a link to your show: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Important reminder for submitting programs: All shows for playback on SF Commons Channels 29 & 76 must be received by staff 48 hours in advance of your timeslot. This means that programs submitted (both physically and via email) during weekend non-program hours may not play during Sunday/Monday timeslots. Please plan dropoffs or uploads accordingly.
SF Commons Studio: Live & Pre-taped Shows
The SF Commons Studio is a single-operator studio with three cameras, lights and audio equipment that can be used for live call-in programs, live-to-tape recorded shows or for simple, single-operator recording. Producers must be trained and certified to utilize the studio. There are no drop-in hours for the studio; please make a reservation with staff at least two days prior to your desired session.
- Live Shows: 5:00 – 7:00pm, Tuesdays through Fridays are reserved for the live programming block on Channel 76. No other studio reservations are accepted at this time. Please contact us to express your interest in producing a live show.
- Live-to-Tape Recording: Producers may reserve the studio for recording during any SF Commons program hours when the studio is not being used for workshops or live shows. All recording sessions must conclude by 4:30pm Tu – F.
- Live show Producers may not miss more than five live shows per year, within the guidelines of our cancellation policies.
Production & Event Space
Members may reserve our multipurpose room for show production once per month for up to four hours. This multipurpose room is not a fully functioning studio, but can be converted into a studio space using field gear and light kits. The space can also be used to host events, presentations and production meetings for up to 40. To reserve the multipurpose room, contact staff. Please note: Because of limited soundproofing, productions and events involving loud and/or amplified music cannot be accommodated.
The Policies and Procedures contained in this document are subject to change at the sole discretion of SF Commons and Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC Media). SF Commons is a program of BAVC Media; throughout this policies document, the names SF Commons and BAVC Media are used interchangeably. The most recent version of Policies and Procedures can always be found on the BAVC Media website (bavc.org/sfcommons). By utilizing SF Commons facilities and services, you agree to be bound by the most current version of these Policies and Procedures. Please carefully review this entire document and review it from time to time, as Policies and Procedures may change.