This is a map of some of the providers of local cable access television channels in the United States, drawn from data collected by the Alliance for Community Media (ACM) and assembled by Rob McCausland.
As background, local access channels exist only in those cable franchises where the franchise authorities (usually the Mayors, Selectmen, or Boards of Supervisors) have required them as a condition of the franchise.
This initial map shows cable access providers broken out across four of the major types of access channel managing entities: Nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, government agencies, and multi-jurisdictional authorities. Some other common access managing entity types - libraries, and the cable providers themselves - are not yet shown on this map.
Often which type of entity administers an access channel is determined by what type of programming the channel will carry. Classically, access channels are divided into three programming types: public (P), educational (E), and government (G). Generically, these are known as "PEG" access channels. Generally speaking, the major differences between these channel types are 1) public access channels carry programs submitted by residents of their franchise area, while the others do not; 2) educational channels carry programming primarily driven by the mission of one or more educational institutions in the franchise area; and 3) government channels carry mostly public information programming about the government(s) within the franchise area, often including gavel-to-gavel coverage of their legislative bodies' regular sessions.
These channel type distinctions are general, though, and not absolute; in many areas there is a blending of channel uses that makes such distinctions meaningless. And while generally speaking, a nonprofit organization will administer public access channels, an educational institution will administer educational channels, and a government agency will administer a government channel, there are numerous examples of each management type administering every channel type.
Because of the wide variety of approaches to access channel programming, this P/E/G channel classification, which stems from the 1984 Cable Act
, is not really the best way to measure and map access channel services.
Going forward, the ACM intends to look more specifically at 1) where residents are able to have their own programs shown; 2) where facilities exist that give residents training and equipment use to make those programs; 3) where routine municipal meeting coverage is taking place; and 4) where programming related to local elections is taking place.
Some of the contact information behind this data is surely out of date, although ACM used this mapping exercise to update providers' URLs, and where noticed, changes in street address and contact name. So do be in touch with ACM
if you see a link or address that needs updating.