Amherst Media has been everywhere in Amherst this year. From the Chamber to the Schools, from Local government to State-wide Office, from Academia to The Bruce Show, from the Holyoke Range to the Survival Center, from Orville to Gertrude Dinglehoffer. Amherst Media gives Amherst residents a voice.
The Town of Amherst has finally completed the renegotiation of the franchise agreement with Comcast. In a process where seemingly everything that could go wrong, did, we came through about as well as I could have hoped. Did we get everything we need to meet the Town's needs? No. But it wasn't from a lack of effort or committment on the part of our many advocates and supporters who went to the matt over and over again to argue our case. I would like to thank the Cable Advisory Committee, Amherst Media staff, the Select Board, and the Town Manager for their tireless efforts on our behalf.
Another positive outcome of the Cable Advisory process was a growing recognition that Amherst Media does not only serve cable subscribers -- all of our content can be viewed online. Given the intransigence of Comcast over giving us access to the interactive program guide, it's actually often easier to watch most Amherst Media programming online. And, while Comcast still refuses to let us broadcast in HD, when you watch online, you can see our programming in HD too.
Furthermore, there is a growing recognition it's probably not reasonable for only cable subscribers to bear the entire cost of providing the services that benefit everyone, like the Town's institutional network and the extreme governmental transparency that Amherst residents crave. Our next step in the process is to negotiate with the Town regarding what services the Town wants from Amherst Media and how best to meet the need with the resources available. We look forward to this conversation which, we hope, will be *slightly* less contentious than the one just completed.
The number that everyone was focused on in the negotiations was the capital request to replace the Amherst Media equipment -- some of which hasn't been replaced for more than 20 years. One question that hasn't been addressed, though, is where to put all the new equipment. Eversource still wants us out of this building and we still haven't yet found any suitable location to move to. Finally, however, we have a plan.
As you know, in 2013, Amherst Media purchased property on Main Street and Gray with the goal of building a technology center there. Unfortunately, we were unable to realize those plans at that time. Since then, we've looked again at every option in town. We initially thought the merger of the Middle School and High School might result in a good fit for Amherst Media near the auditorium, but with the deferral of those plans, we were back to square one.
Ed Severance, who's been through the process of looking for new homes for Amherst Media more times than he cares to count decided that enough was enough. He's persuaded the Rotary Club of Amherst to sponsor Amherst Media with their annual auction. This year's auction will be entirely to benefit Amherst Media with the goal of starting our building project. But we will need to raise more money to match the Rotary Club's gift -- and more -- to get us there.
That's why we're asking you to tune into the Rotary Auction and support Amherst Media. Please donate generously this year to support us as we undertake this campaign. We invite you to donate at: http://amherstmedia.org/donate Every amount helps. Thank you very much.
Steven D. Brewer
President, Amherst Media Board of Directors