Content Submission

Learn how to submit broadcast television programs and digital content to our statewide network.

As a PBS member station, we support the mission and values of public television. We abide by PBS principles and guidelines, so please become familiar with producing for PBS, especially its Editorial Standards and Practices, Funding Standards and Practices and Production Guidelines. We also abide by FCC rules and regulations pertaining to non-commercial educational television stations.

Since our primary audience is the people of Iowa, submissions are evaluated in part on their relevance to local viewers – stories that have a compelling appeal to Iowans and/or tell distinctly Iowa stories. We recommend you become familiar with the local content on Iowa PBS’s various distribution channels. We deliver local content through four broadcast channels, the websites and, the on-demand services PBS Video App and PBS Passport, and various social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Producers can submit completed video content or written proposals for potential projects. Please be aware that Iowa PBS receives numerous submissions throughout the year, so it sometimes takes a lengthy period of time for submissions to be evaluated. Also, we often request revisions to submissions to make certain they will comply with PBS guidelines, FCC rules and regulations, broadcast standards (both technical and thematic), internet platform compatibility, principles surrounding story clarity and accuracy, and viewer expectations.

Please note that Iowa PBS does not pay licensing fees or provide grants for content submitted by independent filmmakers, nor does our development team at the Iowa PBS Foundation raise funds for independent projects. Fundraising is the responsibility of the producers. All fundraising efforts must comply with public television standards and practices.

We value the work of independent filmmakers, and while we don’t pay licensing fees we offer exposure to state and national distribution channels and, in some cases, provide finishing services for video content (e.g. color correction, audio mix). For other resources, new filmmakers will find useful information at Produce Iowa, including a list of state and national arts organizations that provide grants. Experienced filmmakers who are familiar with PBS guidelines may be selected to receive a Letter of Support or considered for the possibility of a Co-Production Agreement or Presenting Station Agreement.

Submission Guidelines

To submit video content or a written proposal, please follow these guidelines.

Whether in the form of video content or written proposal, all submissions are required to include the submission materials noted below. Please send all submission materials to Submissions will be reviewed in the order received. A link to a posting (e.g. Vimeo, private or unlisted YouTube) is preferred for video content submissions. The preferred file format for written proposals is .doc or .pdf.

Submission Materials

Submission materials must include the following information.


Summarize the subject matter and storyline in one page or less.


Provide demographic information about the intended audience with supporting research. Describe the thematic goals of the project – either a community need (i.e. creating awareness of a timely and relevant issue and/or imparting important information to the public about a particular issue, etc.) or an Iowa PBS content need (i.e. a gap in the relevant topics presented on any one or more of our platforms). If possible, provide examples of local or national content the submission bears similarity to or compliments.

Key Participants

Please identify key participants in the project. This includes producers, directors, writers, performers, videographers and editors – people who significantly contribute to the character of the content. Identify other projects in which the key participants have been involved and any awards they may have won. We strongly recommend that productions involve experienced video-storytelling professionals.


If submitting a written proposal, provide a schedule for all stages of development, including fundraising, pre-production, production, and post-production. Be sure to clearly indicate when the project is expected to be completed, or if it’s a series proposal, when all episodes will be completed. If the project is already underway, explain its current status and plans for completion.


Provide an itemized list of costs for all phases of project development. Include salaries, production costs, post-production costs, talent, rights acquisition, travel expenses, insurance, rentals, etc..


Identify the length of the project. Standard lengths for broadcast are one-hour (56:46) and half-hour (26:46); other platforms, such as web and social media, accept content of varying lengths. For series or series proposals, include the number and length of all episodes.


For video content submissions, list funders in order of contributions, from largest contributor to smallest, and the amounts contributed. Include funders you are planning to contact and anticipated amounts. Please describe any relationship between any of the funders and the project's subject matter and/or the project's key participants (e.g. Does anyone from a funders’ organization appear on camera? Are any scenes shot on a funder’s location? Are any commercial products or services identified? Are any of the project’s key participants current or past employees of any of the funders or subjects of the content?).

For written proposals, list funders you are planning to contact and please describe any relationship between any of the funders and the project's subject matter and/or the project's key participants.

Other Requirements

If your video content is accepted by Iowa PBS, please be advised that delivered content must comply with the following:

  • Closed captioning is required for all productions on all platforms and must conform to FCC rules and regulations. Before video content can be approved for Iowa PBS’s broadcast and/or online platforms, the producer must submit a Letter of Compliance from the party providing closed captioning stating that the provider complies with FCC rules and regulations.
  • Clearances must be documented in writing. This includes appropriate releases for individuals appearing on screen, and releases for intellectual property, such as music, photos, artwork and/or footage acquired from outside sources.
  • E&O Insurance (errors and omissions) is required for all accepted video content. Producers must submit a Certificate of Insurance or a copy of the Declaration Page from the insurance policy. Iowa PBS must be named as an additional insured. Coverage amounts are required to be $1,000,000 per occurrence and $3,000,000 in annual aggregate.
  • Promotions

    If video content is accepted, producers will be asked to provide a minimum of the following:

    • Short description (2-3 sentences)
    • Long description (2-3 paragraphs)
    • Minimum of three (3) high-resolution images cleared for promotional use on all platforms
    • Promotional videos – one (1) 30-second and one (1) 15-second – that meet broadcast specifications and include at least 5 seconds at the end to accommodate Iowa PBS tags (e.g., “Airing next month”)

    Delivery Specifications

    If accepted, video content is required meet Iowa PBS’s Technical Operating Specifications.

    Acceptable File Delivery Formats

    DNxHD 145 SQ
    • Video specifications
      • .MOV (Quicktime movie) format
      • 1920x1080i
      • 29.97 fps 4:2:2
      • DNxHD @ 145 Mbps
      • Video levels must be broadcast safe
      • File must meet DNx145 file specifications
    • Audio specifications
      • 2 or 8 channels
      • 24 Bit
      • 48 Khz sampling rate 1152 kbps Bitrate
    • Ancillary data
      • 436M 708 captions with 608 compatibility bytes.
      • Timecode track: Drop frame timecode
    ProRes 422
    • Video specifications
      • .MOV (Quicktime movie) format
      • 1920x1080i
      • 29.97 fps 4:2:2
      • ProRes  @ 147 Mbps
      • Video levels must be broadcast safe
      • File must meet Apple ProRes 422 file specifications
    • Audio specifications
      • 2 or 8 channels
      • 24 Bit
      • 48 Khz sampling rate 1152 kbps Bitrate
    • Ancillary data
      • 436M 708 captions with 608 compatibility bytes.
      • Timecode track: Drop frame timecode
    50Mbps MPEG2 OP1A MXF
    • Video specifications
      • .MXF (material exchange format)
      • 1920x1080i
      • 29.97 fps 4:2:2
      • MPEG2 50 Mbps
      • Video levels must be broadcast safe
      • File must meet 50MB MPEG2 OP1A MXF file specifications
    • Audio specifications
      • 2 or 8 channels
      • 24 Bit
      • 48 Khz sampling rate 1152 kbps Bitrate
    • Ancillary data
      • 436M 708 captions with 608 compatibility bytes.
      • Timecode track: Drop frame timecode

    Audio Quality

    • The audio mix must be free of audible clipping and other distortions.
    • The audio mix must be free of objectionable noise.
    • True Peak Limit should be -2 dBFS
    • Dialog peaks should be between -8 and -10 dBFS
    • Target Loudness Tolerance should be between -22 and -26 dBFS

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How does Iowa PBS support its community of local filmmakers?

    In every way we possibly can. Though we don’t have the funding to pay licensing fees for locally produced content, we find many other ways to invest in our community of local filmmakers.

    Video content accepted by Iowa PBS is often selected to receive a host of Iowa PBS post-production services – color correction, audio mixing, closed captioning, transcoding – to prepare it for broadcast on Iowa PBS’s statewide television network and/or distribution on one of Iowa PBS’s many online platforms. If the topic of the video content is of regional or national interest, Iowa PBS may offer to pursue public television distribution on the filmmaker’s behalf. Statewide exposure on Iowa PBS and national exposure through public television distribution may help local filmmakers fundraise for future projects. We also invest in promotions for the video content we accept. Promotions may take the form of social media postings, broadcast spots and/or paid media.

    Iowa PBS does not make money by distributing locally produced content. The return on investment for Iowa PBS in supporting its community of local filmmakers is the additional, high-quality, local content Iowa PBS presents to its viewers and possible future collaborations. Your success is our success!

    Over time, a local filmmaker who consistently delivers high-quality video content to Iowa PBS that meets Iowa PBS’s Submission Guidelines, may receive offers to collaborate with Iowa PBS on projects. Collaborations with Iowa PBS can take many forms, all of which offer additional support to local filmmakers, including fundraising opportunities.

    How can I find funding for my project?

    We highly recommend that you make use of the grant and production resources from Produce Iowa. You may also seek funding from one or more individuals or organizations, but please thoroughly review the PBS Funding Standards and Practices and the underwriting guidelines in the PBS Producer's Handbook before approaching any potential underwriter. Some filmmakers have had success crowdfunding their projects.

    Why does Iowa PBS require E&O Insurance?

    Errors and Omissions (E&O) Insurance protects you, the filmmaker, and any additional insureds named in your E&O policy, against claims of invasion of privacy or publicity, libel, slander or other forms of defamation, and infringement of copyright. We trust you to obtain all rights and clearances necessary to distribute your video content, but even the most thorough rights and clearances work does not prevent you from being liable. Iowa PBS cannot accept liability on your behalf.

    Who reviews my submission?

    Your submission may be reviewed by as many as four (4) people from across Iowa PBS’s Production, Programming, Web and Educational Services departments, depending on the unique aspects of your submission, its intended purpose, compatibility with different platforms of distribution and Iowa PBS’s content needs.

    How long does it take Iowa PBS to respond to a submission?

    As many as four (4) people at Iowa PBS will need to review your video content or written proposal. And while the review team will strive to fully consider each submission as quickly as possible, the timing of their response really depends on each team member’s individual schedule and the number of submissions they’re processing at the time your submission is received.

    Winter seems to be the slowest season and best time to seek a response from Iowa PBS within weeks. From spring to fall, however, response times can take several months.

    Once you’ve submitted your video content or written proposal you will get confirmation from that it was received and an estimated time for a response. If that estimated time comes and goes and you still haven’t heard from us, please don’t hesitate to follow-up.

    If the video content I submit is accepted, how much time will it take before I see it on Iowa PBS?

    Roughly 2-6 months if your video content already complies with Iowa PBS’s Submission Guidelines. If your video content is accepted but does not meet Iowa PBS’s Submission Guidelines, you’ll be asked to make revisions. The amount of time it will take your video content to be seen on Iowa PBS will also depend on the amount of time you need to make revisions.

    If your video content already complies with Iowa PBS’s Submission Guidelines, it can take 2-6 months or more for it to be scheduled for broadcast on Iowa PBS. Iowa PBS creates its broadcast schedules two (2) months in advance. For example, we finalize our broadcast schedule for May at the end of March; thus the minimum of two (2) months.

    We also schedule video content for broadcast when we feel it will be most relevant to our viewers. For example, we may accept video content in September about a brother and sister who train all summer for the upcoming high school wrestling season, but schedule it for broadcast in February, around the time of the State Wrestling Championships.

    If your video content already complies with Iowa PBS’s Submission Guidelines and is intended for one of Iowa PBS’s internet platforms of distribution, it can take much less time than the broadcast scheduling process noted above.

    What do I do if my submission is rejected?

    Please try again. If we turn down your video content or written proposal, we’ll tell you why. Please use that information to guide your next submission and keep submitting. We appreciate the hard work you put into creating video content and want you to succeed.

    What rights does Iowa PBS ask for and are those rights negotiable?

    We typically ask for non-exclusive rights – we want to add to, not limit, your distribution options. And we ask for unlimited broadcast and internet rights in perpetuity; but yes, we’re negotiable.

    We’ve worked with some filmmakers who prefer one form of distribution over another: online rather than broadcast, for example, or vice versa; a limited number of broadcast releases over a limited number of years; etc. and so on. Except in circumstances where our interest in your video content lies in its value to an audience on a specific platform, we will do our best to accommodate.

    Letters of Support and Agreements

    Letter of Support

    An Iowa PBS official Letter of Support represents Iowa PBS’s interest in your written proposal and confidence in you as a filmmaker. It is typewritten on Iowa PBS letterhead and signed by Iowa PBS’s Director of Programming & Production. A Letter of Support may be presented to potential funders as Iowa PBS’s endorsement of your written proposal; it defines a level of consideration Iowa PBS will give your video content upon submission that should be given serious consideration by potential funders. Only exceptional proposals written by experienced filmmakers receive the acknowledgement of an Iowa PBS official Letter of Support.

    Co-Production Agreement

    Proposals written by experienced filmmakers who have demonstrated their ability to deliver high-quality video content and meet Iowa PBS’s Submission Guidelines may be considered for a Co-Production Agreement. A Co-Production Agreement combines your skills with Iowa PBS’s resources to produce video content for distribution on Iowa PBS’s broadcast and online platforms. It defines a collaborative arrangement that has many benefits for you as a filmmaker: access to Iowa PBS videographers, drone pilots, editors, marketing and promotions experts, educational consultants, a digital strategist, web development team, and Iowa PBS’s Foundation as a potential fundraising partner. The form and manner of a collaborative arrangement is negotiable and depends on Iowa PBS’s video content needs, your skills as a filmmaker, the needs of the project, and anticipated funding. Though used most often for video content intended for statewide distribution on Iowa PBS’s broadcast and internet platforms, Co-Production Agreements can lead to national public television distribution.

    Presenting Station Agreement

    Experienced filmmakers who have a history of successfully producing video content for public television distribution may be interested in a Presenting Station Agreement. A Presenting Station Agreement guarantees national distribution for your video content. Iowa PBS’s role in a Presenting Station Agreement is to provide oversight and consultation throughout the production process, ensuring video content is ready for national distribution to public television stations immediately upon completion. Iowa PBS liaises with distributors, negotiates distribution deals on your behalf, prepares and delivers your video content to meet the distributors’ specifications, and helps the distributor promote your video content to other public television stations. A Presenting Station Agreement requires you to raise all the funds necessary to complete your project and Iowa PBS’s Foundation to administer those funds as the project’s fiscal agent.