Alliance for Community Media

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The Alliance for Community Media (ACM), is an educational, advocacy and lobbying organization in the United States which represents Public, educational, and government access (PEG) cable TV organizations and community media centers throughout the country.

The ACM was founded in 1976 as the National Federation of Local Cable Programmers (NFLCP), with the stated mission to “protect and increase freedom of expression, diversity of ideas and community communication through electronic media”. The mission statement has evolved over the years to “Promoting civic engagement through community media”.[1] The ACM works to protect the interests of community media centers and those who use PEG facilities and equipment to promote localism and diversity in programming through cable television and the Internet. They have offices in Washington, DC, with three employees and roughly $600,000 annual revenue.[2]


The predecessor to the ACM, the NFLCP, was formed in 1976 by a group of media activists based in the Alternate Media Center (AMC), a New York University (NYU)-based organization created by American documentary filmmaker George C. Stoney and Red Burns to encourage citizens to tell their own stories through video production. The NFLCP held its first national convention and Hometown USA video awards in 1978 in Madison, Wisconsin, at which time a board was established to lead the non-profit organization. The NFLCP persuaded industry and government regulatory agencies to dedicate a portion of the new cable broadcast spectrum to public-access television, a requirement that was codified in federal communications law in 1984. Part of the agreement was to set aside bandwidth and funding for TV channels dedicated to public, educational, and governmental access programming (PEG).

The 1970s and 1980s were the heyday of access television, with hundreds of TV operations springing up in communities around the country. The ACM grew in response to the unique needs of this group of professionals, many of whom ran small operations that required them to multitask as program producer, manager, technical support, and more. The ACM facilitated training, networking, and resources to support this specialized role.

In 1992 the organization was renamed “Alliance for Community Media” so as to recognize the scope to be more than “just cable”.[3] In the following decades new forms of media delivery became incorporated into the average PEG operation and by extension, into the agenda of the ACM's educational programs.


The ACM is a professional membership and advocacy organization. Originally established as a single non-profit entity, the ACM shifted its membership and lobbying activities in 2011 to a 501(c)6 organization, while maintaining 501(c)3 status for the newly named Foundation for the Alliance for Community Media - to manage educational and charitable endeavors such as the Hometown Awards[4] and the Emerging Leaders Institute.

To help in the coordination of national activities, the Alliance for Community Media divides the U.S. into regions, most of which are governed by regional boards and represented on the national ACM board. As of 2023, the active ACM regions are:

  • ACM NorthEast Region (New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island)[5]
  • ACM West Region (Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico and Nevada)[6]
  • ACM Central States Region (Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio)[7]
  • ACM Northwest Region (Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming)
  • ACM MidWest Region (Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin)

Historically the ACM also had Southeast, Southwest and Mid-Atlantic Regions, but these dissolved for lack of activity. In 2022 - February 15 - the Jersey Access Group (JAG, headquartered in Metuchen, New Jersey) announced they had just joined ACM.[8] Southern PEG operations were severely curtailed as a result of new cable regulations in those states in the early 21st century.

In a re-organization of ACM affiliation rules in 2013, former ACM Chapters were given greater independence and invited to continue to participate in the ACM through Affiliate membership, which was created to give like-minded groups such as Mass Access a path to collaboration with the ACM on issues of mutual interest.

Within the ACM, the Caucus of Inclusion, Equity and Engagement takes responsibility for research and recommendations on collaborating with communities that are underserved by mainstream media.


From its founding, the ACM has been primarily focused on the needs of Public, Educational, and Governmental (PEG) access stations and the regulatory environment fostering their existence. The NFLCP and George Stoney's cohort were instrumental in getting a legal basis for the public interest requirement written into the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984. In 1996 the ACM was a petitioner in a U.S. Supreme Court decision involving the potential censorship of material that an operator "reasonably believes ... depicts sexual ... activities or organs in a patently offensive manner."[9] In 2013 ACM published a summary of the implications for their members of the 2010 Southern New York district court decision in Viacom International Inc. v. YouTube, Inc..[10]

The ACM has taken up a number of causes on behalf of the PEG community, including:

  • Protection of funding sources at the national, state and local levels
  • Defending the PEG industry against efforts to reduce its effectiveness
  • Promoting training and best practices within the PEG community
  • Helping community media centers prepare for future technologies

The ACM staff, with assistance from ACM's Policy Working Group helps the PEG community identify potential threats and solutions to the policy discussions that would affect their ability to operate.

The ACM also works to raise awareness among policymakers of the importance of local media literacy and access.


ACM members have the opportunity to learn and network at the ACM national conference every year, as well as ACM regional conferences. These conferences typically include a tradeshow, educational seminars, and a video contest. At the national level, the Hometown Awards began in the early days of the NFLCP, and typically attracts hundreds of entries, including locally produced shows, public service announcements, sporting events, and community highlights.

In addition, the ACM publishes a newsletter about developments in the community media field. Originally entitled “Community Television Review” the newsletter was later renamed “Community Media Review”, and eventually moved to an online emailed format.

The ACM conducts educational programs for its members, including training webinars, policy conference calls, calls to action, and a mentorship program.

National Conferences
Year Location Dates Theme
2024 San Jose, CA 6/25-27
2023 Brooklyn, NY 6/27-29 B Transformed for Good
2022 Chicago, IL 6/28-30 Sweet Home
2021 virtual 6/29-7/1 Sharing & Building Resilience
2020 canceled
2019 Portland, OR 7/10-12 New Paths
2018 Baltimore, MD 7/11-13 Be More
2017 Minneapolis, MN 7/12-14 Rivers To Cross
2016 Boston, MA 8/18-20 Our Town
2015 Pasadena, CA 8/12-14 ReDiscover Community Media
2014 Philadelphia, PA 8/6-8 State & Main [joint conference with NAMAC]
2013 San Francisco, CA 5/29-31 Transformation
2012 Chicago, IL 7/31-8/2 Collaborate
2011 Tucson, AZ 7/27-30 Innovate
2010 Pittsburgh, PA 7/7-10 Meeting Community Media Challenges
2009 Portland, OR 7/15-18 Community Media at the Crossroads
2008 Washington, DC 7/9-12 gO/sz
2007 Minneapolis, MN 7/25-28 Navigating the Currents of Change in Community Media
2006 Boston, MA 7/5-8 Connecting Communities
2005 Monterey, CA 7/6-9 Waves of Change
2004 Tampa, FL 7/7-10 Channels for Change
2003 Tacoma, WA 7/9-12 Connecting Media, Cultures & Communities
2002 Houston, TX 7/10-13 Celebrate Diversity
2001 Washington, DC 7/11-14 Building Community Through Media
2000 Tucson, AZ 7/12-15
1999 Cincinnati, OH 7/7-10 Building Bridges To Each Other In The Next Century
1998 Portland, OR 7/8-11 Community Media: From Vision to Action
1997 Milwaukee, WI 7/9-12
1996 Arlington, VA 7/17-20 We the People: Building Community Through Media
1995 Boston, MA 7/5-8 Community Media: Thriving in the Technology Revolution
1994 Honolulu, HI 7/20-23 Protect the Voice, Perpetuate the Vision
1993 Atlanta, GA 7/21-25 Cultural Diversity: Weaving Common Threads
1992 St. Paul, MN 7/15-19 Telling Our Stories: One Drum, Many Drummers
1991 Portland, OR 7/24-28 Voices of Democracy: Celebrating the First Amendment
1990 Washington, DC 7/25-29 Advocate
1989 Dallas, TX 7/13-15 The Video Frontier
1988 Tampa, FL 7/14-16 Channels for Change
1987 Chicago, IL 7/16-18
1986 San Francisco, CA 7/10-12
1985 Boston, MA 7/11-13
1984 Denver, CO 7/19-21
1983 Portland, OR
1982 St. Paul, MN 7/8-11
1981 Atlanta, GA 7/9-12
1980 East Lansing, MI 6/25-29
1979 Austin, TX
1978 Madison, WI 7/6-9

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ACM website". The Alliance for Community Media.
  2. ^ "Alliance For Community Media Inc". Dun & Bradstreet Business Directory. Wikidata Q112260800.
  3. ^ "Community Media Review". The Alliance for Community Media.
  4. ^ e.g.,
  5. ^ Alliance for Community Media - Northeast Region, Wikidata Q112251234 with separate chapters: Alliance for Community Media New York, Wikidata Q112251247, Connecticut Alliance for Community Media, Wikidata Q112265831, MassAccess, Wikidata Q112266063
  6. ^ Alliance for Community Media - West Region, Wikidata Q112251224
  7. ^ Alliance For Community Media - Central States Region, Wikidata Q112254846; Michigan Alliance for Community Media, Wikidata Q112259935
  8. ^ Dave Garb (15 February 2022), JAG Joins the Alliance for Community Media, Jersey Access Group, Wikidata Q112264957
  9. ^ Alliance for Community Media v. FCC, Wikidata Q67604783
  10. ^ Jennifer M. Urban; Brianna L. Schofield (2013), Brief of Amici Curiae National Alliance for Media Art and Culture, the Alliance for Community Media, and Kartemquin Films in Viacom v. YouTube, doi:10.2139/SSRN.2349143, Wikidata Q108930242

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