The Hometown Media Awards is the Foundation of the ACM’s yearly awards program. It is established to honor and promote community media, community radio, and local cable programs that are distributed on Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) access cable television channels. Proceeds go to the ACM Foundation which is exclusively used for facilitating, preserving and promoting education in community media.

Each year, nearly one thousand entries are submitted. These entries are submitted and evaluated on several factors resulting in over 100 award winners. A panel of judges from the industry evaluate the entries. Awards are presented to the most creative programs that address community needs, develop diverse community involvement, challenge conventional commercial television formats and move viewers to experience television in a different way.

The Hometown Media Awards Celebration is the award presentation for winners. The award is a beautiful plaque personalized with the name of the producer, title of the program, and the category for which it won. The Hometown Media Awards Celebration is held in summer at the ACM Annual Conference.

Entries must come from non-commercial programming from access center professionals, independent producers, students and community radio.

Programs, or projects, entered must have had their first telecast on a local cable access channel or their initial stream/web distribution on or between January 1 and December 31, 2020.

Some categories require specific criteria to be met in order for an entry to be eligible. Be sure to read the category descriptions carefully so that your entry will not be disqualified.

ACM Member or NFCB Member– $50 per entry*
Non-Member – $75 per entry
Student – $40 per entry
No refunds will be issued once an entry is submitted.
**Receiving the Member Price, discount code cannot be applied to student entries
A discount code was emailed to all current members on 1/5/2021 that may be applied to submissions. Call or email the office if you need the code. The prices you see listed on the Hometown Media Award website platform will only show the $75 standard fee. Once you are at the payment portion of submitting your entries, you can apply a member code for the fee to show at the $50 member rate. Here are the steps:

1. Select your project to the appropriate category at the standard fee price
2. Click “add to cart and checkout”
3. Once on the checkout page, scroll to “Secure Checkout”
4. Enter the discount code that was provided in the “discount / waiver code” field
5. The code will give you the member rate for each entry in your cart

Please be sure only ACM members with discount benefits use and apply the discount code:

Organizational Members – Only applies to staff, current board directors, or an independent producer who utilizes a current ACM member organization’s facility.

Individual Members – Those with voting rights to ACM. Does not include Community members.

REFUND DISCLAIMERS: Refunds of the difference will not be given to any member who submits an entry at the full price. Any individual who submits an entry at the member rate and is not a current ACM member will need to pay the difference, or become a member. No refunds for anyone who fails to comply, and their entries will result in disqualification. Review the ACM member list online:

Online submissions close 11:59 pm Eastern Time on March 8, 2021.
Tip: Don’t wait until the last minute! Make your submission early.

Must include any information judges will need to access your video (passwords or other instructions).


STANDARD CATEGORIES (All categories listed except any "Overall Excellence" categories)
The Standard Categories awards recognize producers for their program efforts in a concentrated area/topic. Producers are split into divisions based on their level of expertise. The producer divisions are:

(1) Access Center Professional – Programs created by employees of community media or access centers.
(2) Independent Producer – Programs created by producers independent of community media or access centers (no compensation).
(3) Student Division – Programs created by current students enrolled in primary, secondary or undergraduate schools. Non-students may supervise the production, but the overall direction, control of the production and all technical tasks (camera, directing, editing, sound, etc.) must be performed by the youth involved.
(4) Community Radio -Programs created by community radio stations.

You may enter your program in as many categories as you wish. You may NOT enter a program in more than one producer division. For example: you may enter a project as an independent producer in two different categories, but you may NOT enter the same project as a student entry in one category and as an independent producer in another. Select the appropriate producer division when selecting the category.

Each entry must be submitted with a separate entry form. You must pay an entry fee for each entry submitted. Please be sure to view the instructions on the online entry site.

For Standard Categories, submit a single program. Compilations of multiple programs are not allowed for standard category entries (unless entering into the “series” sub-categories).

Overall Excellence in Community Media entries must be submitted by an access organization, cable company, educational institution, local government, or other institution that provides public, educational, or governmental access services. The Overall Excellence divisions are based on the access organization’s annual operating budget:

(1) Less than $300,000;
(2) $300,001 to $650,000;
(3) $650,001 to $1,000,000;
(4) More than $1,000,000

Overall Excellence entries should include excerpts from programming representing Public, Education and Government that first aired between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2019. The excerpts should be separated by black, a character-generated slate or a video bridge. The total running time must not exceed 20 minutes.


Overall Excellence – 20 minute total running time (TRT).

Standard Categories (all others) – Eight minute total running time (TRT).
The judges will view the first eight minutes of your entry, keep this in mind when editing so your first eight minutes is your best work and ultimately what you want the judges to see.
*Some standard categories may have additional time restrictions so please read descriptions carefully.*
*We strongly recommend that you edit your project to the eight minute length of time so that judges will view what you consider to be your best eight minutes. If you do not edit your entry down, judges will view eight minutes at random.*


FilmFreeway accepts all major video formats in full quality HD up to 10 GB. We transcode videos for playback compatibility and performance and recommend that you use settings close to our output settings:

Maximum video bitrate: 2200 Kbps, H.264, mp4
Audio: 128 Kbps, AAC, 2 channel stereo
Aspect ratio preserved; maximum video height of any pixels


Entries that feature programming in languages other than English OR Spanish do need to submit an English or Spanish language transcript alongside their entry or use subtitles so that we can ensure entries are fairly and equally judged.

Entries will be disqualified if:

The video is not viewable: audio is inaudible, video is unstable, judges are unable to access private link, or for any other technical reason. Judging sites will attempt to view on at least two machines before disqualifying. Please double check your entries!
An entry clearly violates a specific requirement of the category in which it is entered.
Any portion of the program was taped after December 31, 2020.
First cablecast of the entry was after December 31, 2020.
No refunds will be made for any entry that is disqualified or if any other error is made by the producers or submitters of any entries. A decision by the judging panel to disqualify an entry is final.

All decisions made by the judging panels and the Alliance Hometown Coordinator are final. Judging panels are comprised of volunteer judges and ACM members from across the country that work with and are employed by community media centers. Judges receive detailed instructions and guidelines and are encouraged to leave comments for participants.

The Alliance and Hometown management will provide feedback upon request. If you would like to receive your feedback, please email Megan at

The Hometown Media Awards Celebration is held at the Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference.

Winners are responsible for their own travel plans and expenses.

Each award winner receives a beautiful plaque personalized with the name of the producer, title of the program, and the category for which it won. Duplicate plaques may be purchased for a fee.

All winning entries and honorable mentions will be listed on the Alliance for Community Media website and selected entries may be included in materials used by ACM to promote community media. If you provide a link to your full winning entry, ACM will post it on the winning entries page for the public to view.

ACM retains the right to use all or part of the entries for promotional purposes on a non-exclusive basis. The producer is responsible for obtaining all approvals, clearances, licenses, etc., for materials contained in the entry and must provide such clearance upon request.

If you have questions, contact the Hometown Media Awards Coordinator, Megan Dobberstein at or (952) 928-4671. Please note that the ACM cannot advise participants which categories they should enter.

Overall Rating
  • Good virtual event, a nice "save" in a year where so many other events were cancelled due to the pandemic. Very creative of those at ACM to do it this way.

    July 2020
  • Benjamin Vinar

    ACM always does a great job of putting on the Hometown Media Awards reception and ceremony!

    July 2019