My connection to the cable-TV station dates to the mid-1990s, before it was ACMi and during a time when the studio was on Mystic Street owned by a corporation. I recall appearing on camera discussing local media issues and thinking what a direct way to reach Arlington's public cable provided.

Two years after I began publishing YourArlington, in 2006, ACMi, now a nonprofit directing its own future, became my first advertiser. It has continued nonstop since then, during a time when the whole operation on Park Avenue has grown significantly.

Beyond advertising, ACMi is a continuing community resource for news and opinion. The station's overall goals are similar to YourArlington's.

Over the years, I have watched as ACMi has expanded, significantly upgrading its equipment, broadening the number of public meetings covered, professionalizing its news operation and establishing a studio across the high school.

The number of public meetings to cover is a challenge for me, but by watching an ACMi broadcast -- as it occurs on replay or via video on demand -- I can catch up.

I do think ACMi could improve by providing a schedule that reports what specific meeting is scheduled for replay, rather than having to guess. Yet when some snafu occurs, I find the staff very responsive to my requests. Thanks, James Milan, Sean Keane and Norm McLeod.

The watch-anytime option of video on demand has been a lifesaver for me.

ACMi is a must for Arlington's growing media landscape. All should support its continuing impact on our town.

Background you should know

Now consider some important background to cable talks:

The Town of Arlington has begun negotiating a renewal of Comcast's contract. As one of the three cable providers to the town, Comcast's current contract will expire in July 2016. The other two cable providers are RCN and Verizon, whose contracts with the town will be up for renewal in September 2016 and March 2017, respectively.
The Board of Selectmen voted to allow the Cable Advisory Committee to act as the town's negotiator for the contract renewals. The final decision remains with the board.
ACMi has its own contract with the town, much of which is incorporated into the license renewal the town agrees to with all of the cable providers. To provide the Cable Advisory Committee with complete information about ACMi performance and activities over the last 10 years, a study and report are being prepared that will be used in the negotiations with Comcast and the two other providers.

The study will chart ACMi's growth over the years and will envision a future that includes, among other goals, the transmission of all three of our channels in high definition. It will also contain letters of support for ACMi from the Arlington community.
We are asking you to take a few moments to send us a letter of support, via email or USPS, describing your experience with Arlington Community Media, for inclusion in the ascertainment report. If you have had any connection with ACMi; as an individual; as a member; as one of a group that was interviewed; or if you have just watched our programming; we would like to hear from you. If you are part of an organization, please use your organization's letterhead, if available.
This is an important request we are making, and we are very appreciative that you would be willing to write in support of ACMi. Your letter of support will directly help to maintain the operational and capital funding for the station that is received from the cable providers, and will allow ACMi to continue to grow and provide even more service to the Arlington community. Time is short, however, so we are asking that you let us know how you feel about ACMi's performance by Monday, February 23. Your letter will then be included in the final ascertainment study report presented to the Cable Advisory Committee.

One last thing. As part of this process the advisory committee and town will be holding a public hearing in which members of the community will have an opportunity to comment on the performance of both Comcast and ACMi over the course of the current contract. It is important to the negotiations with the cable providers that the public hearing be very well attended. The date for that hearing has not yet been set, but please stay tuned.

This viewpoint was published Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015, and updated Feb. 23.