Technical Standards

Please carefully read the information below for the latest information regarding FPA's technical standards and accepted formats for cablecast. 

If submitting data files on disc (only one episode per disc):

  • When naming files, please do NOT use special characters in the file name. This includes spaces, periods, numeric symbols, etc. Files should be named as such: PublicAccessShow1.mpg
  • Bars and tone, slate, and countdown are not required for a data file. 
  • If a signed Program Submission form is not received for a program, it will NOT air. 

If submitting data files via the in-house Member Airdrop:

  • When naming files, please do NOT use special characters in the file name.  This includes spaces, periods, numeric symbols, etc. Files should be named as such: PublicAccessShow1.mpg
  • Bars and tone, slate, and countdown are not required for a data file. 
  • After dropping your files, please provide a signed Program Submssion form to the Programming Department. If a form is not received for a program, it will NOT air, or be transferred to our server from the Member Airdrop. 
  • Files transmitted in-house via the Member Airdrop will not be kept in FPA's server past 90 days.  The Programming Department strongly advises producers to keep a master copy of all files, and provide the department with a master copy if an occasional re-air of content is necessary. 

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Programming aired on any FPA channel may be produced using FPA’s equipment and facility, or may be produced elsewhere. Programming shall be produced using current industry standards and accepted norms. Technical standards apply to all programming, regardless of the program’s point of origin. FPA's training programs cover the production standards. Users are required to follow these standards to facilitate transmissions of programming. FPA may reject any program that does not adhere to these standards. These standards are subject to modifications as technologies evolve.

A. Television Program Tape Start Requirements:

  1. All tapes must start with 60-seconds of bars and tone at -20dbu
  2. All tapes must then follow with 10-seconds of slate showing the program title, episode number, total running time, taping date, and producer's name
  3. All tapes must then follow with 10-seconds of control track black, followed immediately by the program or a countdown followed by 2-seconds of black before the program starts
  4. Multiple episodes may be submitted on tape as long as each episode is divided by bars and tone, slate, countdown with 2 seconds of black or 10 seconds of control track black as described in steps 1-3 above.

B. Television Program DVD, Blu-ray, SD MPEG-2, HD File Start:

  1. DVDs shall not have menus
  2. No header is required
  3. The program recorded on the DVD must start immediately
  4. Only one episode may be submitted on DVD or Blu-ray
  5. Data files must be burned onto a DVD, dual-layer DVD, or Blu-ray
  6. Only one file per the above format

C. Television Program Tape, DVD, Blu-ray, SD MPEG-2, and HD File End:

  1. All programs produced using FPA's equipment must conclude with:
         a. 3 to 5-seconds of a slate that credits FPA
        b. The FPA credits, may include:
                 i. "Production Facilities Provided by Fairfax Public Access, Fairfax, VA”
                 ii. Producer's name and/or production company
                 iii. Phone number
                 iv. Street address or e-mail address
                 v. Copyright notice and date
        c. 20-seconds of control track black after the end of the credits (tape only)
  2. FPA makes available master media of bars, tone, as well as the FPA credit slate for the convenience of television producers

D. Television Program Length:

  1. All 1/2-hour programs shall time out at no more than 28-minutes from the first frame to the last frame of visible video
  2. All 1-hour programs shall time out at no more than 58:00 minutes from the first frame to the last frame of visible video
  3. If a program is too short or too long the programming department reserves the right to pull it from the airing schedule and return it to the producer for time corrections to be made

E. Television Program Tapes and DVDs:

The recommended standard definition master tape format at FPA is DVCPro 25. These tapes come in large and medium sizes and are available for sale at the equipment room in lengths of 66-minutes and 126-minutes. Producers may also submit programs on DVCam, Mini-DV, DVD and file formats, with restrictions.

Accepted Standard Definition Formats:



DVC Pro 25




Mini DV

SP only


No more than 9 mbps (bit vrate), no menus, color bars, slate, or countdown

SD MPEG-2 Files*

720x480, audio bit rate of at least 192kpbs, audio sampling of 48khz, and strict mux rate of 9Mbps *see below for more detail

Blu-ray Disc

Playable Blu-ray disc (currently downcoverted to SD, no copy protection on disc)

HD Formats*

720p or 1080i resolution, MPEG-2 Program Stream, XDCamHD/XDCamHD422 *see below for more detail


Due to the ever-changing nature of the field and future technological advances, a fluid list of accepted formats is available at

  1. FPA recommends submitting programs on digital tape or file
  2. DVDs may not produce results that are acceptable for cablecast
  3. FPA reserves the right to charge a fee for DVDs that require a transfer to DVCPro or files that require conversion to the proper format.
  4. The Programming Department records programming based upon the program title as it reads on the Program Proposal Form and episode numbering starting with “1”
  5. Each episode submitted is sequentially numbered
  6. Outside producers with a different numbering system can be accommodated

F. Television Program Control Track:

Tapes shall have:

  1. Continuous control track with no breaks from head of tape to at least 20-seconds past last frame of tape
  2. 20-seconds of black with control track at the end

G. Television Program Material Production Standards:

 1. Programming is produced using:
         a. Industry standards and accepted norms         
         b. Industry best practices
 2. Practices that may cause a program to be rejected: Non-linear editing systems that use overly compressed files, incorrect aspect ratios, overmodulated audio, and other technical problems.
 3. FPA's technical specifications:
         a. A written specifcations document is available at
         b. FPA reserves the right to reject tapes, DVDs, Blu-rays and data files that do not comply with FPA's technical specifications document
         c. Video submitted for cablecast complies with accepted industry standards for brightness and color levels (SMPTE RS-107A)
         d. When measured on a waveform monitor, video luminance levels do not exceed 100 IRE
         e. Color levels shall not be excessive
         f. Excessive video and chroma levels cause transmission problems
         g. Unacceptable:
                 i. Excessive noise caused by over processing or generation loss
                 ii. Macro blocks or other artifacts caused by digital compression
 4. Audio
         a. Required test tone: -20 dBfs on diigital VTRs where the top of the scale is 0 dBfs
         b. Audio program levels shall not peak over -12 dBfs at any point in the program
         c. Program material subject to rejection are:
                 i. Program material exhibiting over modulation or distortion, regardless of final volume level
                 ii. Program material exhibiting excessive noise due to improper mixing technique, over processing, or digital compression

H. Television Program Tape and DVD Return:

1.    Producers should notify the Director of Programming if a program will become dated within a short period of time following its first airing
2.    Tapes and DVDs may be released to the producer
3.    FPA personnel will notify producers when tapes and DVDs that have aired are ready to be claimed
4.    FPA is not responsible for the proper or secure storage of tapes or DVDs that are not claimed in a timely fashion
5.    Unclaimed tapes and DVDs are discarded

*SD File Requirements *HD File Requirements
All SD Files must be 720x480 pixels

All HD files must be one of the following resolutions:

720p - 1280x720 59.94fps
1080i - 1920x1080 29.97fps

MPEG-2 Program Stream


  • Main Profile, Main Level
  • Audio Codec: MPEG1 Layer II or Linear PCM
  • 4:2:0 chroma format
  • Closed GOP Structure (Group of Pictures) with one I-frame and four P-frames every 15 frames, using the pattern IBBPBBPBBPBBPBB. Video sequence frame before every GOP.
  • Interlaced Bottom Field First
  • Audio bit rate of 192, 256, or 384 kbps
  • Audio sampling rate of 48 kHz
  • Constant bit rate
  • Strict maximum program mux rate of 9Mbps for video, audio & overhead

The following HD formats are accepted:

Note - Bold formats are native to the playout system, and will require less transcoding time to be available on the playout system.
Use of these formats is recommended when possible.

MPEG-2 Program Stream

  • MP2 or PCM Audio
  • I Frame Only or Long GOP
  • Fixed GOP Structure
  • Max of 2 B-frames within GOP
  • Closed GOP recommended
  • .MPG or .MPEG file extention


  • PCM Audio
  • .MXF file extension
Apple ProRes/ProRes 422
Avid DNxHD

H.264 MPEG-4

  • High Profile/HiP or greater

When naming files, please do NOT use special characters in the file name.  This includes spaces, periods, numeric symbols, etc.  Files should be named as such: PublicAccessShow1.mpg