Federal Register / Vol.
56, No. 226 / Friday, November 22, 1991 / Rules and Regulations / 59185
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
15 CFR Part 2301
[Docket No. 91 0635-1245]
Facilities Program (PTFP);
AGENCY: National Telecommunications
and Information Administration (NTIA), Commerce.
ACTION: Further Statement
of Program Policy.
SUMMARY: This further
statement of Program Policy clarifies fund ing considerations for the
Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP). In 56 FR 38004, published
August 9, 1991, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration
(NTIA) an nounced further refinements of PTFP policies and requested public
comment on the proposals. NTIA has reviewed the comments submitted as
a result of the notice and is now responding to the comments and issuing
the Further Statement of Program Policy.
EFFECTIVE DATE: December
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
CONTACT: Dennis R. Connors, Director, Pub lic Telecommunications Facilities
Program, NTIA/DOC, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Room H-4625,
Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 377-1835.
In response to the Proposed Further Statement of Program Policy [56 FR
38004, August 9, 1991], NTIA received comments from nine different organizations.<1>
The State ment encourages the submission of applications seeking to further
public educational efforts through the use of broadcast and nonbroadcast
public telecommunications. In addition, it assists potential PTFP grant
applicants<2> in evaluating the prospects for obtaining funding
for certain projects by summarizing NTIA's programmatic concerns and the
legal considerations affecting the funding of three types of projects:
and instructional projects;
or improvement of nonbroadcast services; and
improvement and augmentation projects.
The Statement provides guidance
to potential grant applicants in determining whether to apply for PTFP
funds, and it supplies a uni form response to frequently arising questions
about the competi tiveness of certain applications.
RESPONSES TO THE COMMENTS
ON THE PROPOSED FURTHER STATEMENT OF PROGRAM POLICY
Educational and Instructional
The comments received generally
supported "NTIA's encourage ment of PTFP applications that would
assist educational and in structional projects"<3> and praised
the Agency "for affirming its long-standing commitment to educationally
oriented goals".<4> At the same time CPB pointed out that,
"no other institution...does more than public broadcasting to service
the Nation's daily needs for timely, thoughtful and in-depth educational
programming and news and information programming on issues which are vital
to the general population and workforce."<5> APTS and PBS urged
NTIA to "be fully aware of the extent of educational and instructional
programming currently provided by the nation's public broadcasting stations"<6>
and provided a fairly detailed summary of that "ex tent".<7>
NTIA is very aware of "the
unique capability of a broadcasting service dedicated to public service
and education."<8> NTIA hopes in formulating and publishing
this policy statement that public broadcasters will be stimulated to develop
a number of projects with an educational component to further their contributions
Some public broadcasting organizations
expressed concern that the Agency's encouragement of applications to assist
educational and instructional projects would result in less NTIA support
for public broadcasting projects.<9> In the Statement, NTIA tried
to emphasize the important role of public broadcasting in providing educational
services, and it takes this opportunity to state clearly that it has no
intention of abandoning its commitment to public radio and television.
It anticipates that the rate and ratio of funding of high-priority broadcast
and nonbroadcast projects will remain approximately the same as it has
been in the past. NTIA's intent in issuing this Policy Statement is to
"encourage the submission of more applications focusing on educational
objectives"<10> from both broadcast and nonbroadcast applicants.
The commenters focused their
responses on the educational pol icies put forth in the proposal. These
policy initiatives may be broken into three broad categories -- public
availability and pro ject purposes, technology, and interactivity.
Public Availability and
In the Statement, NTIA pointed
out its obligation to "look only to projects offering instruction
to the public," excluding "from its purview televised coursework
that is both produced and received within the confines of either a school
building or a single campus," contrasted with a "distance learning
project" offering "students expert instruction in an advanced
subject while they remain hundreds or thousands of miles from the instructor."<11>
The Statement also identified several factors that might make a project
more highly competitive for funding, such as whether it:
- reaches a large number
of potential students, especially those in remote, isolated areas;
- reaches students who clearly
would never receive the course work offered without the project;
- reaches a high number of
- meets some special need;
e.g. a state mandate to raise sub stantially the educational achievement
level of all students, in cluding those in isolated areas; and
- assists the nation's international
Some commenters read these
factors as a voluntary curtailment of NTIA's discretion to fund educational
projects that serve a loc al, as opposed to a regional or national, audience.<13>
These par ties were concerned that use of phrases such as "a large
number of potential students", or "far ranging course distribution
system"<14> indicated a bias in favor of nationally distributed
educational programming.<15> This is not NTIA's intention.
NTIA recognizes that the nation's
educational system is based upon local schools governed by local boards
of education. In addi tion, the myriad and positive contributions that
local public radio and television stations make to the education effort,
no matter what the grade level, is a fact well known to NTIA. The factors
that NTIA listed in the Statement were not intended as dispositive to
the final funding decision. Rather they were intended to delineate some
of the parameters within which PTFP may consider applications with educational
benefits. Therefore, NTIA will continue to maintain its discretion in
deciding which types of project to fund. Whether a project promises to
reach the entire nation or a portion of a single school system will not
be the only factor considered when evaluating an application. NTIA also
will be aware of CPB's stress on the advantages of supporting "services
principally directed at the general at-home audience population that are
also usable in the classroom" and be mindful that "the long-term
educational benefits of its investment...will be defined by the number
of users of the services, the frequency and variety of educational uses,
the special contributions to education which the services can provide,
the effectiveness and uniqueness of the services, and the long-term sustainability
and usefulness of the services."<16>
As a general matter, NTIA cannot
bind itself to favor any one specific technology over another. The language
of the statute is clear in its intent that all types of technology, whether
broadcast or non-broadcast, are to be considered for funding.<17>
While agree ing that "expansion of public radio into unserved and
under-served areas continues to be a Congressional priority,"<18>
NTIA cannot agree with NPR's contention that Congress intended PTFP to
fund nonbroadcast technology "simply as an alternative delivery mecha
nism for public television and radio broadcast programming".<19>
Federal support for public
broadcasting began in 1962 with passage of the Educational Television
Facilities Act.<20> In 1978 responsibility for this program was
transferred to NTIA, and the Program was renamed the Public Telecommunications
Facilities Program.<21> The Public Telecommunications Financing
Act of 1978 also substantially amended the substance of the PTFP's authorizing
statute.<22> In the 1978 Act's Declaration of Purpose, language
referring to public broadcasting was struck and the term "public
telecommunications facilities" inserted.
PTFP has funded projects using
nonbroadcast technology ever since NTIA began administering the grant
program. These funding decisions were based on NTIA's interpretation of
PTFP's authorizing statute.<23> Among the projects funded were Instructional
Television Fixed Service (ITFS) and nation-wide satellite distribution
systems for specialized instructional programming.
NTIA's interpretation that
PTFP's statute permits the funding of nonbroadcast technologies has remained
constant for thirteen years and three amendments to the statute.<24>
It is significant that since 1978, Congress has amended the statute several
times and has not changed the agency's interpretation of the statute.<25>
is continuously changing and im proving and, as CPB urged, NTIA will monitor
"upcoming advances and opportunities in the broadcast systems it
has supported."<26> NTIA will be alert to the possibilities
of such promising developments as digital audio broadcasting (DAB) and
high definition television (HDTV) as they are developed, get acceptance
from broadcasters and the public, and become important in providing public
telecommunica tions services.
There are two distinct opinions
in the comments received as to the efficacy of "broadcasting"
versus "narrowcasting" to deliver educational programming.<27>
Parties on both sides of the issue agreed, however, that numbers alone
(e.g., establishment of a reach threshold) should not be NTIA's sole consideration.<28>
The Agency states, therefore, that its policy is to consider the number
of potential beneficiaries from a given project, but stresses that this
is only one consideration.
Based on the foregoing discussion,
NTIA announces the follow ing policies with regard to the technology used
by applicants pro posing to extend education through public telecommunications:
- There will be no automatic
prejudgments based merely on the type of technology proposed.
- PTFP is authorized to extend
the reach of public tele communications and will remain alert to promising
- NTIA declines to establish
a reach threshold by which to measure the efficiency of a proposal.
Among the variety of other
issues that NTIA thought commenters might view as important to judging
the merits of a particular pro posal was the one of interactivity -- that
is, whether one-way sys tems with no possibility of student feedback should
be considered comparable to two-way systems.<29> Those who commented
were in agreement that interactivity is not amenable to a strict defini
tion, and that such a definition is not desirable.<30> The comment
ers felt that applicants are the appropriate parties to address this issue
because only they can determine whether interactivity is an essential
component of a project.<31> NTIA agrees with this proposition.
Further, APTS and PBS suggested
several factors that NTIA hopes applicants will address in any proposal
to use interactive technology in a project. These include, but are not
limited to, the educational background and motivation of the target audience,
the nature of the organization and content of the course, the age of the
target audience, the preparation and effectiveness of the instructor,
the training of receiving site personnel, and the set ting in which courses
are received.<32> The burden of justifying interactivity, with its
added expense and complexity, is on the applicant. NTIA will consider
such proposals, if otherwise eligible, but does not believe interactivity
is a prerequisite for an educational project to be funded.
CPB recommended that NTIA "revisit
these policy issues again in approximately five years".<33>
The Agency tries to monitor the field on an on-going basis so as to be
prepared for policy changes that may be needed, and it will continue to
do so. NTIA expects to propose and seek comment on revisions whenever
it seems necessary to help PTFP carry out its mission.
Expansion or Improvement
of Nonbroadcast Services
NTIA noted in the Policy Statement
that the PTFP's authorizing legislation prohibits the Agency from awarding
grants that would result in the improvement of already-operating nonbroadcast
enti ties. The Statement then asked for comments on six major issues that
have arisen over the years as the program attempted to apply this Congressionally-imposed
limitation to diverse nonbroadcast applications.
Three commenters addressed
this element of the Statement. APTS and PBS approved PTFP's present approaches,
saying, "The Joint Commenters believe that the current policies and
practices utilized by NTIA to classify nonbroadcast equipment requests
have worked well and should be continued..."<34>
The other two commenters --
Mercer County Community College and the New York Network/State University
of New York -- advised PTFP to alter its policies on this matter. MCCC
explicitly suggested that the policy prohibiting the funding for the improve
ment of operating nonbroadcast entities be changed so as to allow such
funding.<35> In response, NTIA notes that the prohibition in question
is statutory<36> and cannot be altered except by legislative action.
The New York Network submission
emphasized the extraordinary diversity of telecommunications delivery
systems that has been developed over the past 20 years and argued that
"NTIA's policies must reflect this amazing migration of technology".<37>
The submis sion recommended that, to be cost effective in making its funding
decisions on such projects, NTIA should apply as one criterion the record
of the applicant's demonstrated achievement in distance learning: "The
rules should... allow those who are the most active and innovative in
producing Distance Education to be eligible for facilities funding"
and NTIA should "tap those organizations who are currently contributing
with their own resources. The use of PTFP funds should provide for the
extension of these existing ef forts and not contribute to a duplication
of facilities where there may be no actual sustaining educational mandate
or revenue source."<38>
NYN continued this theme in
its comments on the Statement's Issue One, which asked to what extent
an applicant's pre-existing activities should affect the eligibility of
a nonbroadcast application. NYN said, "The possession of a single
piece of advanced communications technology should not cause unduly harsh
limitation on the ability to apply for funds especially where such hardware
will directly serve an educational entity and its popula tion."<39>
In stating this, NYN apparently had in mind primarily the acquisition
of multiple satellite receive-only earth stations at sites that receive
a vast amount of satellite-delivered pro gramming.
NYN also commented on NTIA's
Issue Four ÄÄ whether, in a ser vice expansion project, the
applicant should be permitted to use PTFP funds to acquire production
equipment if it is to replace leased, borrowed, or inferior equipment.
Noting that NTIA's interpretation would inhibit NYN's ability to provide
the extensive programming that it might wish over its widespread and sophisticat
ed system, the Network stated, "To extend our services to more locations
may at some point require an increase in the capacity to support those
needs and hence the addition of similar equipment. Yet under the strict
application of existing NTIA rules such an application would not be permitted."<40>
The clear trend of all these
comments is towards NTIA's fund ing applications to improve the facilities
of already-operating nonbroadcast entities. As we noted above and discussed
fully in the Statement, the issue is governed by statute, and any change
in the policy may be brought about only by Congressional action. NTIA
reaffirms, however, that to the extent that a proposed project would result
in the extension of a nonbroadcast entity's geographic scope or bring
its service to a new and distinct audience, PTFP may accept the application
as eligible for funding consideration. NTIA agrees with NYN's suggestion
that applicants' demonstrated achievement in distance learning is relevant
in the evaluation of an application and encourages applications to address
Finally, NYN urged NTIA to
recognize the significance of digi tally compressed video as an vehicle
for transmitting vast quanti ties of programming: "The NTIA PTFP
policies should allow the up grade and expansion of non-broadcast networks
and facilities to adopt this new more efficient technology."<41>
As noted in the earlier discussion
on technology in the section on Educational and Instructional Projects,
NTIA will monitor developments in telecommunications technology. NTIA
re- emphasizes that it considers all established telecommunications technologies
to be eligible for funding. This includes equipment to allow the use of
digitally compressed video. There is, of course, one major limitation:
the proposed use of the technology in question must be in compliance with
PTFP's Congressionally mandated goals and objectives. If -- but only if
-- the "upgrade and expan sion of non-broadcast networks and facilities"
in question would result in the expansion of the applicant's service in
a manner con forming to the dictates of PTFP's authorizing legislation,
then the application would be considered eligible for program funding.
Broadcast Improvement and
Since 1987 NTIA's policy on
local matching requirements has been to fund projects providing first
service to a geographic area at up to 75% of the eligible project costs,
with a presumption of 50% Federal funding for equipment replacement projects.
The policy has also been that NTIA would consider showings of extraordinary
need, such as regional economic problems or emergency situations, as justification
for the submission of a replacement project appli cation for more than
50% Federal funding. In the Policy Statement, NTIA extended the presumption
of 50% Federal funding to broadcast improvement and augmentation projects
with the same provision for applicants to demonstrate extraordinary need.
No comments were received on
extending the policy, but APTS and PBS "believe that the same matching
standard should be appli cable both for new service and transmitter replacement
applica tions. Both should be entitled to 75/25% grants or both should
be entitled to 50/50% grants. To do otherwise jeopardizes the con tinued
service of existing stations".<42>
As explained in the Statement,
NTIA established the 50/50% policy in 1987 so that PTFP could participate
in a greater number of replacement projects by making the available funds
go further. This approach enabled NTIA to award $2,688,217 in PTFP grants
that would have gone unfunded in 1991 if all transmitter grants had been
funded automatically at 75%.
It has been the Agency's experience
that this policy has posed no problem or threat for stations since any
applicant in an especi ally severe economic situation could seek funding
at 75/25%. A number of such submissions in fact have been made and funded.<43>
This fact gives NTIA confidence that there is no reason automati cally
to fund transmitter replacement at 75% and that continuing the 50/50%
policy for equipment replacement projects and extending it to broadcast
improvement and augmentation projects will not ad versely affect any station.
STATEMENT OF PROGRAM POLICY
The National Telecommunications
and Information Administra tion, (NTIA), U.S. Department of Commerce,
is charged with admini stration of the Public Telecommunications Facilities
Program (PTFP). In order to assist potential PTFP grant applicants to
evaluate the potential for obtaining PTFP grant funding for certain projects,
NTIA summarizes below its programmatic concerns and the legal considerations
affecting funding of three types of projects:
(1) educational and instructional
(2) projects to expand or improve
nonbroadcast services; and
(3) broadcast improvement and
Immediately below, we state
our policies for each type.
Educational and Instructional
Public education is an important
element in any country's com petitive arsenal, and the United States has
come to recognize that a well-educated work force is a necessity if it
wishes to maintain its high standard of living. In its administration
of the PTFP, NTIA has sought to support educational projects through its
broad- based assistance for public broadcasting services and by funding
nonbroadcast projects offering specific educational or instruc tional
NTIA would like to encourage
the submission of more applica tions focusing on educational objectives,
and believes that it has sufficient latitude within its current legislative
and regulatory mandate to fund a wide range of both broadcast and nonbroadcast
projects of this nature. NTIA already has a funding category called Special
Applications.<44> This category is related to, but separate from,
the PTFP funding priorities. Important educational and instructional projects
-- whether broadcast or nonbroadcast -- can be given preferential consideration,
in the Administrator's discretion, within this category. In this policy
statement NTIA identifies factors that will be relevant in exercising
its discre tion to fund educational projects.
NTIA is authorized to use PTFP
funds to support the purchase of telecommunications equipment to be used
by public telecommunica tions entities to provide educational programming
to the public.<45> NTIA has exercised that authority to fund educational
projects us ing both broadcast and nonbroadcast technologies.
In the field of broadcast instruction,
PTFP funds are consis tently made available to noncommercial television
and radio sta tions, the former of which are generally stations affiliated
with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Typically, such PTFP grants
have been awarded to local public broadcast stations providing edu cational
services as part of their programming day. In some cases, those services
are directed to the school population, sometimes to the public at large.
With respect to nonbroadcast
instruction, NTIA has awarded grants to support the activation and extension
of satellite net works to distribute instructional programming to a large
geograph ical area, often nationwide. The networks so funded have usually
been composed of entities at the college or university level and have
offered coursework in advanced fields, such as engineering, science, math,
agricultural science and management.
NTIA also has awarded grants
to nonbroadcast projects to es tablish local instructional television
networks. The technology involved usually has been microwave, utilized
as Instructional Tel evision Fixed Service (ITFS) systems. The entities
funded have included regional school systems, state telecommunications
organi zations, vocational schools, and colleges and universities. Such
systems offer many channels of instruction and usually reflect the educational
concerns of a community or relatively small region. Satellite networks
and ITFS system transmissions are both usually one-way video with a telephone
line audio interconnection for question-and-answer periods.
As summarized above, PTFP's
own grant history illustrates that education may be brought to citizens
in many ways. Of greatest current interest to NTIA is the concept of "distance
learning", which NTIA interprets to mean the use of telecommunications
to make instruction available to students at locations apart from the
To further its statutory mandate
to advance educational goals,<46> NTIA believes it is timely to
reemphasize that education is a significant PTFP program purpose within
the meaning of its Rules and to amplify how the funding criteria set forth
therein may be applied to such project proposals.<47>
In seeking to define its role in providing funding support, NTIA is attentive
to certain threshold considerations. The first is the requirement, arising
from PTFP's authorizing statute, that NTIA look only to projects offering
instruction "to the public".<48> Thus, NTIA will exclude
from its purview televised coursework that is both produced and received
within the confines of either a school building or a single campus. Such
a project would be in contrast to a distance learning project -- e.g.,
a communications satellite network -- which would offer students expert
instruction in an advanced subject while they remain hundreds or thousands
of miles from the instructor.
as indicated above, NTIA's experience is that education can be provided
effectively to distant students through both broadcast and nonbroadcast
technologies, and PTFP's legislative authority allows funding of projects
within both cate gories.<49> Accordingly, NTIA will not automatically
favor one technology over another with respect to educational project
applications, but rather will consider the services to be rendered and
the efficiency of the technology proposed.
Project Purposes: Given
the extraordinary diversity within the field, a project will be considered
more highly competitive for funding if it promises to accomplish one or
more of the following objectives:
- reach a large number of
potential students, especially those in remote isolated areas, or, reach
a high number of potential beneficiaries (an example of the latter might
be the activation of a series of satellite transmit earth stations [uplinks]
to form the nucleus of a far-ranging course distribution system);
- reach students who clearly
would never receive the course work offered without the project;
- meet some special need;
e.g., a state mandate to raise sub stantially the educational achievement
level of all students, in cluding those in isolated areas; and
- assist the nation's international
NTIA also regards as particularly
relevant the participation of minorities and women in providing instructional
programming or in receiving it.<50>
These factors are not rigid
criteria, nor will they supplant the existing funding criteria and priorities.<51>
Like all appli cations, educational/distance learning applications will
continue to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and other factors might
raise the competitiveness of any given application.
Further, NTIA will not make
prejudgments about a variety of other issues that might be viewed as important
in judging the merits of a particular proposal. For example, NTIA is not
prepared to issue a definitive opinion on the question of whether one-way
video broadcasting, without the possibility of student feedback, should
be considered comparable to more sophisticated two-way educational systems.
In assessing applications relating to educational or instructional projects,
NTIA will expect the applicant to demonstrate the merits of whichever
type of system -- be it one-way or interactive -- is proposed. NTIA also
assumes that such applicants will show that alternative systems could
not be anticipated to work as well as the proposed method. In making their
case, NTIA urges educational/instructional applicants to consider such
concerns as the educational background and motivation of the target audience,
the nature of the applicant organization, the content of the relevant
coursework, the age of the target stu dents, the preparation and effectiveness
of the faculty, the training of the staff at the receive sites, and the
setting in which the courses are received.
Similarly, NTIA makes no judgment
as to whether a course has to be "live" to count as effective
distance learning. Nor will NTIA stipulate what sort of equipment it will
consider eligible for funding in educational projects.
Finally, although NTIA will
continue to be interested in the number of students the proposed educational
programming will reach, the Agency is not ready to impose any reach threshold;
i.e., a designated minimum number of students expected to receive the
programming below which NTIA will not consider an application project
truly competitive. Also, being alert to the singular role that the local
community has in United States education, NTIA will not automatically
elevate a proposed national-distribution system to a competitive position
above that of a strictly local system just because of the presumed greater
"reach" of the former. NTIA believes that the fears of some
local systems that they will be crowded out by bigger, more powerful national
systems are exagger ated. The Agency notes that often the presence of
a nationally- distributed service strengthens a local system simply by
allowing the latter to enrich its curriculum through the addition of the
nationally-fed coursework. Nonetheless, NTIA realizes that all types of
distribution systems -- local, state, regional, and national -- have their
merits. NTIA will, therefore, look at each application in turn to determine,
case by case, which most deserve PTFP support.
Improvement of Nonbroadcast
Every year NTIA receives applications
that raise the question of whether the applicant is proposing an improvement
of an already operating nonbroadcast facility and, thus, whether the project
is eligible for PTFP funds pursuant to statutory guidelines.<52>
In contrast to the authority granted to fund improvements of broadcast
projects,<53> the statute limits funding of nonbroadcast projects
to those designed for the provision of
new telecommunications facilities
to extend service to areas currently not receiving public telecommunications
services;...[or] the expansion of the service areas of existing public
NTIA interprets the phrases
"extend service to areas" and "expan sion of the service
areas" to mean an enlargement of geographic scope or a targeting
of a new and distinct audience for the nonbroadcast service in question.
Nonbroadcast applications submitted by operating entities that do not
expand the geographic scope or target a new and distinct audience will
continue to be ineligible for funding. Complexities constantly arise,
however, in applying the statutory text to specific circumstances. NTIA
has identified six such issues and states its position on each.
Issue One: To what
extent do an applicant's pre-existing activities affect the eligibility
of a nonbroadcast application? Some PTFP nonbroadcast applicants have
had some previous telecommu nications experience. For example, many colleges
have a small studio for producing instructional materials or a satellite
downlink, for on-campus distribution of programming. Should the possession
of such facilities disqualify an applicant from obtaining PTFP funds for
the establishment of a new nonbroadcast entity on the grounds that the
new activity is solely an "improvement" outside the scope of
NTIA's funding authority?
Of relevance here is the Act's
formal definition of a "noncom mercial telecommunications entity"<55>
-- an organization which dis seminates audio or video noncommercial educational,
instructional or cultural programming to the public by nonbroadcast means,
such as coaxial cable, optical fiber, satellite, microwave, or ITFS transmission.
NTIA believes, therefore, that a vital factor in determining whether an
applicant is an already-operating nonbroad cast entity is its ability
to distribute programming to the public.
NTIA considers the distribution
of programming when confined to either a single building or a single campus
to be "closed cir cuit" transmissions and not dissemination
of programming to the public. Thus, an organization that possesses only
a satellite downlink, or that produces instructional programs not disseminated
to the public, is not a noncommercial telecommunications entity as PTFP
uses the term. Its PTFP application for nonbroadcast equip ment -- assuming
that the equipment would be used to establish a public nonbroadcast service
-- would therefore be eligible for con sideration for PTFP funding.
Issue Two: In establishing
a new nonbroadcast telecommunica tions entity, may an applicant use PTFP
funds to acquire origina tion (production) equipment to replace old or
non-standard equip ment owned by the applicant? Sometimes colleges or
universities have studio equipment not used for public telecommunications,
as that term is discussed in Issue One, above. The existing equipment
may consist only of consumer- or industrial-level quality. Occasionally,
it is of broadcast-level quality, but obviously obso lete and fit only
for closed-circuit purposes.
NTIA insists that all equipment
acquired with PTFP funds be of professional broadcast quality.<56>
It does so to ensure that the equipment will provide a high quality, reliable
service to the pub lic. NTIA also wants to be assured that the equipment
purchased will hold up for the full period of Federal interest in it.
Under these circumstances,
NTIA believes that it is appropri ate for PTFP to fund new production
equipment to replace substan dard equipment as part of a project to establish
a new nonbroadcast entity. NTIA also will support the purchase of new
production equipment to complement existing equipment -- even if the latter
is of broadcast quality -- if the result would be to bring the appli cant's
production capability to the minimum recognized standard for broadcast
Issue Three: Must a
nonbroadcast telecommunications entity have studio production capability?
Some PTFP applicants request funds to establish a production studio for
use with an already- operating nonbroadcast dissemination facility. NTIA
believes that a nonbroadcast telecommunications entity can acquire and
distribute programming without the use of studio production equipment
and thus studio production capability is not necessary for the operation
of a nonbroadcast entity. While production equipment admittedly would
strengthen the entity's service, a request to acquire production equipment
in these circumstances would be an improvement and there fore not eligible
for PTFP funds.
Issue Four: In a service
expansion project, should the ap plicant be permitted to use PTFP funds
to acquire origination (pro duction) equipment if it is to replace leased,
borrowed, or inferior equipment? Periodically, an already operating nonbroad
cast entity proposes to expand its existing service area and in cludes
in its PTFP application a request for funds to replace ex isting production
With respect to already operating
nonbroadcast entities, NTIA believes that such a purchase would represent
an improvement in the applicant's capabilities. Therefore, the portion
of the applica tion involving production equipment would not be eligible
for PTFP funding. The application could be accepted for consideration,
but the only equipment eligible for funding would be that required for
expansion of the service area, primarily dissemination and inter connection
NTIA believes that applications
for funds to acquire new pro duction equipment, rather than relying on
leased or borrowed equip ment, should also be denied. Customarily, applicants
in these sit uations point out that they do not currently own any production
equipment and characterize this part of the project as the "estab
lishment" or as the "completion of construction" of their
nonbroad cast facility. As noted under Issue Three, NTIA believes that
a nonbroadcast entity does not require a local production facility in
order to provide service to the public. Therefore, an applicant already
disseminating nonbroadcast services to the public is not eligible to improve
its facility by constructing a production stu dio with the use of PTFP
Issue Five: What is
the effect of an applicant's activating a nonbroadcast facility between
the closing date and the award date, or the effect of such action on the
reactivation of a defer red application? Applicants have submitted proposals
which indi cate that a substantial portion of the proposed nonbroadcast
pro ject will be activated after the closing date (when the application
is due at NTIA), but before the award period start date. The lat ter is
the date on which the project period begins, generally eight or nine months
after the closing date. NTIA has determined that the legal nature of a
nonbroadcast application does not change when, after the closing date,
the applicant acquires equipment from the proposed equipment list and
begins project operations. In such an instance, the application continues
to be eligible during the grant cycle for which it is submitted.
NTIA has also concluded that
the activation of a proposed nonbroadcast facility, however, represents
a substantial change in the applicant's circumstances. Activation of the
facility creates a "public telecommunications entity", and subsequent
applications would be eligible for funding only if the project is an "expansion"
of service area as outlined above. In the event the original ap plication
is not granted by NTIA, the activation of the nonbroad cast facility disqualifies
the applicant from reactivating the ap plication for further consideration
in subsequent grant cycles.
Issue Six: Should a
university that operates a full broadcast standard production facility
in one of its colleges be permitted to receive PTFP funds for the establishment
of a nonbroadcast produc tion facility in a different college? In the
past, NTIA has received requests for nonbroadcast studio equipment in
these circumstances, and will look to the following factors to confirm
that the project is an eligible service "expansion":
- dedication of the existing
production facility to serving a distinctly different audience from
that to be reached by the pro posed facility, with a distinctly different
curriculum and, per haps, via a different distribution system;
- full utilization of the
existing production facility for its current purpose and its consequent
unavailability for the proposed project;
- expense of interconnecting
the existing production facility with that of the proposed project;
- inaccessibility to the
applicant college of the existing production facility.
and Augmentation Projects
NTIA hereby clarifies its policy
on local matching require ments. In its previous policy NTIA stated that
it would fund projects to provide first service to a geographic area at
up to 75% of the eligible project costs while a presumption of 50% Federal
funding would be the general rule for equipment replacement pro jects.<57>
The policy further stated that the agency would accept showings of extraordinary
need such as regional economic problems in agriculture or other industries
or emergency situations as just ification for submission of a replacement
application for more than 50% Federal funding.
NTIA established this policy
so it could participate in a greater number of replacement projects. NTIA
continues to believe that encouraging greater Federal/local partnership
in this way, along with an allowance for hardships and special circumstances
as previously announced, is an efficient means of administering PTFP funds.
NTIA will now treat broadcast
"improvement" and "augmentation" projects in the manner
of "replacement" projects that normally are supported only at
the 50% Federal funding level. NTIA believes that this addition is consistent
with the existing policy and allows for more equitable treatment of applications.
Again, a showing of extraordinary need will be taken into consideration
as justification for grants of up to 75% of the project cost.
In a related matter, NTIA also
takes this opportunity to reaf firm its existing policy on the use of
Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) funds to meet the local matching
requirements of the PTFP grant.<58> As previously announced, CPB
grants are not considered "funds supplied by Federal departments
and agencies" within the meaning of the Rules and therefore there
is no absolute proscription against the use of such CPB grants.<59>
NTIA continues to believe,
however, that the policies and pur poses underlying the PTFP requirements
could be significantly frus trated if applicants routinely relied upon
another Federally sup ported grant program for its local match. Accordingly,
NTIA has limited the use of CPB funds for the non-Federal share of PTFP
pro jects to circumstances of "clear and compelling need."<60>
It intends to maintain that standard and to apply it on a case-by-case
basis in future years.
Under Executive Order (E.O.)
12291, the Department must de termine whether a policy statement is a
"major" rule within the meaning of Section 1 of E.O. 12291 and
therefore subject to the requirement that a Regulatory Impact Analysis
be performed. This policy statement is not a major rule because it is
not "likely to result in: (1) An annual effect on the economy of
$100 million or more; (2) a major increase in costs or prices for consumers,
individual industries...; or (3) significant adverse effects on competition,
employment, investment, productivity or innovation..." Therefore,
preparation of a Regulatory Impact Analysis is not required.
The Regulatory Flexibility
Act [5 U.S.C. §601 et seq.] does not apply to this policy statement,
because, as explained above, the policy statement was not required to
be promulgated as a proposed policy statement before issuance as a Final
Policy State ment by §553 of the Administrative Procedures Act [5
U.S.C. §553] or by any other law or regulation. Neither an initial
nor final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis was prepared. This policy statement
does not contain policies with Federalism implications sufficient to warrant
preparation of a Federalism assessment under Executive Order 12612.
The Office of Management and
Budget has approved the informa tion collection requirements contained
in this policy statement pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act under
OMB Control No. 0660- 0003. Public Reporting for this collection of information
is estimated to vary from 16 hours to 200 hours and has an average of
125 hours per application, including associated exhibits. This total includes
the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources,
gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing
the collection of information. Send comments regarding this burden estimate
or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions
for reducing this burden, to Office of Policy Coordination and Management,
NTIA, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington D.C. 20230: and to the Paperwork
Reduction Project (0660-0003), Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs,
Office of Management and Budget, Washington D.C. 20503.
Assistant Secretary for
Communications and Information
[FR Doc. 91--28118 Filed 11-21-91;
BILLING CODE 3510-60-M
<1> Comments were submitted
by the following organizations: Associa tion of America's Public Television
Stations and the Public Broad casting Service in a joint filing (Joint
Comments); the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB); Greenville Technical
College, Green ville, SC (GTC); Mercer County Community College, Trenton,
NJ (MCCC); National Public Radio (NPR); the New York Network, State University
of New York, Albany, NY (NYN); the Organization of State Broadcasting
Executives, Columbia, SC (OSBE); and the WGBH Educa tional Broadcasting
Foundation, Boston, MA (WGBH).
<2> PTFP is authorized
to provide matching grants to plan and con struct public telecommunications
facilities. See 47 U.S.C. §§390- 393, 397 (1988), The Communications
Act of 1934, as amended. Unless otherwise noted, all statutory citations
are to Title 47 of the United States Code.
<3>Joint Comments at
<4>CPB at 2-3.
<5>Id. at 3.
<6>Joint Comments at
<7>See Id. at 5-7 and
Appendices A and B.
<8>CPB at 3 (emphasis
in the original).
<9>See Joint Comments
at 9-12, passim; NPR at 3; and, inferential ly, CPB at 3.
<10>56 FR 38004.
<11>56 FR 38005.
<13>Joint Comments at
12; GTC at 6-7.
<15>Joint Comments at
<16>CPB at 5.
<17>See §390, using
the phrase "public telecommunications facilities." The phrase
is defined to include a wide variety of equipment, both broadcast and
non-broadcast. See §397(13).
<18>NPR at 9.
<19>NPR at 3 and similarly
<20>House Report No.
100-825, "Public Telecommunications Act of 1988", at 4.
<22>See, e.g., House
Report 95-1178 and Senate Report 95-858 "Public Telecommunications
Financing Act of 1978."
<24>47 USC §§390-393,397
(1988), The Communications Act of 1934, amended by P.L. 97-35, 95 Stat.
357,725 "Public Broadcasting Amendments Act of 1981" approved
August 13, 1981; P.L. 100-626, 102 Stat. 3207 "Public Telecommunications
Act of 1988" approved October 19, 1988; H.R. 2977, "Public Telecommunications
Act of 1991".
<25>The Supreme Court
has noted "[i]t is commonplace in our juris prudence that an administrative
agency's consistent, longstanding interpretation of the statute under
which it operates is entitled to considerable weight." International
Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen & Helpers of America
v. Daniel 439 U.S. 551, 566, fn. 20 (1979) [citations omitted], and see
Saxbe v. Bustos 419 U.S. 65, 74 (1974).
<26>CPB at 6.
<27>For example, GTC
at 2 and WGBH at 2. The Joint Comments at 5-9 detailed the efforts that
public television stations have made in education.
<28>See, e.g., GTC at
2 and Joint Comments at 16.
<29>56 FR 38005.
<30>GTC at 5; Joint Comments
<31>See, inter alia,
Joint Comments at 16 and GTC at 6.
<32>Joint Comments at
16, citing Stone, A Comparative Analysis of In teractive and Non-Interactive
Video Delivery of Off-Campus Graduate Engineering Education (The American
Society for Engineering Education, 1990) and Holt, Interaction: What is
it and How Much is Enough?, Tel-Con (May 1991).
<33>CPB at 7.
<34>Joint Comments at
<35>MCCC at 1-2.
<37>NYN at 2.
<38>Ibid.; emphasis supplied.
<39>Ibid.; emphasis in
<40>NYN at 3.
<41>Id. at 2-3.
<42>Joint Comments at
<43>In 1991, for example,
seven transmitter projects -- three for television and four for radio
-- received grants of more than 50% in response to the economic showings
the applicants made.
<44>PTFP Rules are at
15 CFR Part 2301. See Appendix. (Hereinafter Rules 2301.)
<47>Rules 2301.2, 2301.13,
and 393(b)(3) direct the Agency to "increase public telecommunications
services and facilities available to, operated by, and owned by minorities
393(b); Rules 2301.13, 2301.14, and Appendix.
(2) and see §390.
FR 31,497 (1987).
<59>Rules 2301.16 and
44 FR 30,898 at 30,907 (1979).
Source: U.S. Department
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
Office of Telecommunications and Information Applications
Posted: 17 Sep 1997