We are pleased to announce that the Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) Records, 1984-2016 Collection is now available for research.
Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) is a community media organization that formed through the origination of cable television in Cambridge. Since its launch in 1988, CCTV’s mission has been to provide resources to residents, businesses, and organizations in Cambridge through telecommunication tools and services. Maintaining a strong emphasis on community, engagement, and education, CCTV works as a media center that maintains and provides access to three local cable channels, workshops in media production and technology, public computer labs, and youth programming. The National Alliance for Community Media has named CCTV first in the country ten times since its establishment for best public access programming station. Members and staff have also been recognized locally and nationally for work produced through CCTV.
Establishing cable for Cambridge was an extended deliberation that began with a municipal plan and ended with a television license agreement between American Cablesystems of Cambridge and the City of Cambridge. In 1978, a cable advisory committee formed to study the needs of Cambridge offered a municipal cable network option for residents. The city council passed the municipal plan twice before bringing it to a general vote in which residents rejected the plan. Despite the loss, in 1984 the city council suggested that citizens create a corporation to compete against other companies vying for franchise ownership as Cambridge’s cable provider. Cambridge Consumer-Owned Telecommunications (Cable Plus), was created as a result. It was designed as a cooperative in which paying residents would have a say in the development of services. Cable Plus planned for rates to be low and for the product to reflect local concerns of consumers.
In 1984, three other firms competed against Cable Plus for the license to provide a cable system to Cambridge: American Cablesystems, Cablevision of New York, and Cambridge Cablevision Corporation. Each corporation submitted a proposal to the City Manager and after review, American Cablesystems was chosen to be the cable provider. American Cablesystems was a much larger corporation that acquired its first system in 1978 and by 1984 operated in four regions: Massachusetts, New York, Florida, and Virginia (including West Virginia and Tennessee). Although this ended local hopes of having a cooperative cable provider in Cambridge, American Cablesystems acknowledged the importance of community television and local programming.
On December 30, 1985 the final license for cable television was granted to American Cablesystems by Robert W. Healy, City Manager. In the license agreement, Cambridge Community Television was established as a corporation to operate the channels designated to public access programming. In 1988, CCTV began its programs from a space in Kendall Square and in 1994 moved to its present location in Central Square. From its founding, CCTV provides local services and programming as a non-profit tax-exempt corporation.
This collection contains materials related to Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) and the processes that led to its creation. It holds two proposals for Cambridge from American Cablesystems and Cable Plus that lay out plans for cable packages, construction, and distribution; the final cable contract between American Cablesystems and Cambridge; and proceeding contract renewals with MediaOne and Comcast. This collection also contains DVDs, ephemera, and paper documents including annual reports, fundraising and outreach materials, grant agreements, programming flyers and funding proposals produced by CCTV.
The cable proposals were originally arranged in three-ring binders. The American Cablesystems proposal includes duplicates that contain handwritten notes and are located in the folder “Annotated Pages”. The American Cablesystems proposal also includes pamphlets about the newest technologies in the 1980s market and cable advertising materials that can be found in Sections 8, 10, and 15.
There are sections missing from the American Cablesystems proposal: Section 7 (Local Organization Programming pp. 99-104), Section 9 (Municipal Services pp. 117-121), and part of Section 10 (Subscriber Services pp. 122-137). Pages 138-198 of Section 10 are available.
 “About Cambridge Community Television.” Cambridge Community Television. https://www.cctvcambridge.org/about.
 “Cable Plus News.” September 1984, vol. 1 issue 1, Cambridge Vertical File, 051, Subject File Cable Television, Cambridge Room, Cambridge Public Library Archives and Special Collections.
 Hirshson, Paul. “Cambridge Has Data Ready on Cable Network,” Boston Globe, 24 May 1984. Cambridge Vertical File, 051, Subject File Cable Television, Cambridge Room, Cambridge Public Library Archives and Special Collections.
 “American Cablesystems Corporation”, Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) Records, 1984-2016, 147, Box 1, 1984 Cable Proposal Section 16 (cont.), American Cablesystems Booklet, Cambridge Room, Cambridge Public Library Archives and Special Collections.
 “Agreement Between the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts and Cambridge Community Television, Inc.” 2001. Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) Records, 1984-2016, 147, Box 4, Grant Agreements 2001, 2005, 2011, 2016, Cambridge Room, Cambridge Public Library Archives and Special Collections.