We need to adapt the mission for community media. The key to sustaining a community media center in the future will be through its role in the provision of local broadband networks, operation of radio broadcast licenses as well as other communications infrastructure. While in the near term, ACM's policy agenda will sensibly remain focused on cable infrastructure, it must immediately begin applying its decades of experience in public access to the Internet. It should also seek to expand the definition of “public access” so that it refers not only to a type of content that is locally-produced and reflects the diversity of a community, but also to a type of communications infrastructure that is governed by the people who use it. The policies outlined in this paper are essential to making public access infrastructure a reality.
Community media's transition to a multi-platform world means the cable access community must move from a focus on a fairly specific slice of media policy – cable franchising – to a near-boundless concern for issues affecting not just broadband, but also wireless, spectrum licensing, and communication standards.
How we address these issues will determine the extent to which people control the infrastructure for their community media or are subject to chokepoints held by commercial service providers. In order to preserve the public's ability to make and distribute our own media, ACM and their peer associations of community media will need to engage in these policy debates together, at all levels of government.