|FEDERAL FUNDING OPPORTUNITY|
The Federal Register Notice of Availability of Funds which summarizes the FY 2004 grant round was published on February 11, 2004.
February 9, 2004
Federal Agency Name: National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), Department of Commerce
Funding Opportunity Title: Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP)
Announcement Type: Initial Announcement-Notice of Availability of Funds
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 11.550. Public Telecommunications Facilities Program
Program Authority: 47 U.S.C. 390-393, 397
Dates: Completed applications must be received at the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program office no later than 6:00 p.m., EST, on Wednesday, March 31, 2004.
Federal Funding Opportunity: The Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP) assists, through matching grants, in the planning and construction of public telecommunications facilities in order to:
Amount to be Awarded: $19.75 million; approximately 100 awards
Funding Instrument: Grant
Eligible Applicants: Public broadcast stations, non-profit organizations organized for educational or cultural purposes, state and local governments and Indian tribes
Cost Sharing: Cost sharing is required.
Limitation on Number of Applications: None
Table of Contents for Electronic Access to this FFO
I. Funding Opportunity Description
This section describes funding available under the Public Telecommunications Facilities
Program, pursuant to Rules which were published on November 8, 1996 (61 FR 57966). Copies
of the 1996 Rules (15 CFR Part 2301) are posted on the NTIA Internet site at
www.ntia.doc.gov/otiahome/ptfp/Rules/1996rules.html and NTIA will make printed copies available to
applicants upon request.
This section is divided into four parts. The first part provides an overview of the projects
eligible for PTFP funding. The remaining three parts provide specific information about NTIA's
emphasis for funding opportunities during the FY 2004 grant cycle. The four parts in this section
1. Eligible Projects and Priorities 2. Radio Broadcasting, Expansion and Digital Conversion 3. Television Broadcasting and Digital Conversion 4. Nonbroadcast (Distance Learning) Projects
An applicant may file an application with the Agency for a planning or construction grant. Each application shall be identified as a broadcast or nonbroadcast project and must fall within at least one of the following categories which are summarized here and are fully described in §2301.4 of the PTFP Rules:
Please note that for the FY 2004 grant round, NTIA has established three subpriorities under the Broadcast Other category. These subpriorities are discussed in the sections on Radio Broadcasting and Television Broadcasting below.
NTIA will take great care to ensure that its funding of radio applications follows the directive of 47 U.S.C. §393(c) that "a substantial amount" of each year's PTFP funds should be awarded to public radio. For the FY 2004 grant round, the eligibility and priority of radio projects, eligibility of radio equipment, and the presumption of 50% funding for radio equipment replacement applications remain as they were in the FY 2003 grant round.
In response to recent changes in technology and in the Federal regulatory environment, NTIA is providing guidance on three issues of interest to potential radio applicants. Applicants proposing projects involving radio signal expansion, conversion to digital transmission, and Internet streaming should read the appropriate sections below.
NTIA's highest priority is activation of public broadcasting facilities to provide a public broadcasting signal to unserved audiences. NTIA is prepared to fund new radio station projects as warranted by reviewers' evaluations and PTFP's financial resources. Activation of new radio stations has been delayed in recent years as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) placed a "freeze" on new applications while it considers a large number of mutually exclusive applications for construction permits.
NTIA anticipates receiving many applications for station activation projects when the FCC begins to accept new applications, resolves mutually exclusive applications, or issues authorizations for non-mutually exclusive applications. In anticipation of increased interest in these types of applications, we are hereby providing the following guidance to potential applicants.
NTIA's first priority for radio projects remains activations to provide the first public radio signal to an area. These projects are divided into two subgroups, Priority 1A and Priority 1B.
First Signal Activations with Local Origination: Priority 1A. As in the past, Priority 1A status will be given to first public radio signal projects that will originate a local public radio service to a geographic area. A Priority 1A application must include local offices and studios which are fully staffed for station management and program production.
NTIA has long recognized that new fully-staffed Priority 1A projects are usually submitted by organizations that are beginning to build community support. Priority 1A projects usually also incur significant project costs which are ineligible for Federal support, such as studio building acquisition/renovation and start-up staff costs. Because these projects are NTIA's highest priority, PTFP will continue to fund Priority 1A applications with a presumption of a 75% Federal share, the maximum amount permitted by law.
First Signal Activations without Local Origination: Priority 1B. Priority 1B status will continue to be given to first public radio signal projects which are repeaters or translators of other public radio facilities. Projects that will serve significant additional listeners with a first public radio signal through increases in tower height and/or power upgrades may be classified as Priority 1B or Priority 2 (equipment replacement) and are discussed in the section on power increase projects, below.
In recent years, most applications for expansion of service have shifted from fully-staffed stations to requests for Priority 1B repeaters and translators. Given the limited availability of Federal funds and the increasing number of applications for new repeater/translator stations, PTFP will now evaluate Priority 1B applications to determine whether or not 75% Federal funding is justified.
In general, NTIA will continue its present presumption of 75% Federal funding for Priority 1B applications which construct the applicant's first broadcast facility in a community.
An application seeking to upgrade a translator to a repeater will normally be funded by NTIA at a 50% Federal share. These applicants should be able to draw on the financial resources of the community served by the applicant's existing program service. Since the broadcaster would be building upon existing infrastructure, it also would incur reduced ineligible start-up costs. Applicants for these types of Priority 1B projects may seek a higher Federal percentage by submitting justification for the increased amount, which will be evaluated by PTFP and the peer reviewers.
Power increase projects. Sometimes a project to replace a station's transmitter or antenna results in an increase in coverage to a new, but relatively small, unserved audience. PTFP usually treats these applications with incidental coverage increases as Priority 2 applications if the equipment replacement meets the Priority 2 criteria. If an applicant requests a Priority 1B consideration of such an application, the applicant should provide documentation of a significant increase in the population that will receive a first public radio signal. PTFP will evaluate the Priority of such requests on a case-by-case basis. Since the applicant already has a facility in the community, these projects, if accepted as Priority 1B, will normally be funded by NTIA at a 50% Federal share. Applicants for these types of Priority 1B projects may seek a higher Federal percentage by submitting justification for the increased amount, which will be evaluated by PTFP and the peer reviewers.
Second (additional) Station Activations: Priority 4A. An application to provide an additional public radio signal to an area already served by public radio will continue to be placed in Priority 4A. The project must demonstrate that it addresses underserved needs in a way that significantly differentiates its services from what is already available in the proposed coverage area (see §2301.4(b)(ii)(b) of the PTFP Final Rules).
In order to extend its resources to assist in signal expansion projects, NTIA will usually fund Priority 4A additional signal projects at no more than a 50% Federal share. This is due both to the lower priority and the reduced ineligible costs of Priority 4A repeater/translator projects which build upon existing infrastructure. Applicants for Priority 4A expansion projects, including those for new fully-staffed facilities, may seek a higher Federal percentage by submitting justification for the increased amount, which will be evaluated by PTFP and the peer reviewers.
If a project to construct a second station (or other additional stations in a community) results in coverage to a new, but relatively small, unserved audience and the applicant requests Priority 1B consideration of its application, the applicant should provide documentation of a significant increase in the population that will receive a first public radio signal. PTFP will evaluate the Priority of such requests on a case-by-case basis.
Important information for all station activation applicants:
NTIA encourages the use of digital technologies for public radio facilities. For several years, NTIA has funded projects for digital STLs and digital audio production equipment which will assist public radio stations as they prepare for conversion to digital technologies. These digital projects are funded as equipment replacement, improvement, or augmentation projects with the presumption of a 50% Federal share unless a showing of extraordinary need for a higher percentage has been made pursuant to §2301.6(b)(ii) of the PTFP Rules. NTIA will continue to support digital non-transmission equipment for radio equipment replacement projects.
Digital conversion projects. As noted, on October 10, 2002, the FCC approved digital transmission for radio stations, although it has not yet published regulations for such stations. Unlike the digital conversion of television stations, the FCC has not established a deadline for the conversion of radio stations. In addition, there is the question of when receivers will be generally available for purchase by the public. These factors raise the issue of whether projects whose primary purpose is to begin digital radio broadcasts present compelling urgency for funding in the FY 2004 grant round.
For FY 2004, NTIA will accept applications for digital transmission equipment for public radio facilities to convert to digital broadcasting. PTFP has included a list of eligible digital equipment on its Internet site and in its printed materials. This list includes transmission and STL equipment. Applicants for digital conversion projects must include documentation of the station's digital conversion plan demonstrating its programming readiness to begin digital broadcasting upon receipt of PTFP funding. The applicant should include its plans, if any, to utilize Program Associated Data or the Supplemental Audio Channel when authorized by the FCC. Digital conversion applications must directly address in their technical exhibits the type of analog/digital signal combining proposed.
PTFP will place radio applications requesting funds to convert to digital broadcasting in the Broadcast Other category. In order to process applications for digital conversion in an orderly manner and to provide guidance to potential applicants for the FY 2004 Grant Round, NTIA will divide the Broadcast Other category into three Subpriorities. Digital television projects will be placed into Subpriorities A and B because the FCC has mandated television's digital conversion and has established a series of deadlines that television stations must meet. Digital radio conversion projects will be placed in the new Subpriority C.
Subpriority C. Radio Digital Conversion. NTIA will assign the following applications for conversion of public broadcasting facilities to advanced digital technologies at the third subpriority level within the Broadcast Other category. These applications will receive equal consideration as subpriority C.
- An application to convert radio transmission facilities to digital technologies. In order to be highly competitive, an application must document its plans to utilize Program Associated Data or the Supplemental Audio Channel, when authorized by the FCC.
- An application to convert production equipment to digital technologies for a station already broadcasting in digital or a station proposing to broadcast in digital. In order to be highly competitive, an application must document its plans to utilize Program Associated Data or the Supplemental Audio Channel, when authorized by the FCC.
NTIA notes that in the past it has been able to fund applications each year in most if not all of the five traditional broadcast Priorities and anticipates that it will be able to fund applications in FY 2004 in most if not all of the Subpriorities in the Broadcast Other category. The presumption of funding for radio projects in the Broadcast Other category is a 50% Federal share. NTIA has not set aside a specific amount for funding radio digital conversion projects. Funding of radio digital conversion projects will depend on the quality of applications received and the availability of funds.
Digital replacement transmitters. Regarding FY 2004 applications for replacement equipment, NTIA anticipates that it will fund digital-upgradable transmitters as the usual replacement for analog transmitters at the power level required to achieve the licensed analog ERP, if justified as urgent replacement of radio transmission equipment. Transmitter replacement applications will be placed in Priority 2 or Priority 4A, as appropriate, depending on whether the applicant provides the only public radio signal to an area (see §§2301.4(b)(2) and (4)). Grant recipients will be able to add an IBOC exciter and additional power output modules as needed to PTFP-funded digital-upgradable transmitters. The cost for the IBOC exciter and additional power output modules above the amount initially approved for the replacement transmitter will be the responsibility of the grantee for FY 2004 awards. NTIA reminds potential applicants that licensing fees, including licensing fees related to the use of IBOC technology, are not eligible for PTFP funds.
NTIA may also directly fund fully compliant IBOC digital transmitters as replacement equipment, when fully justified by the application. Applicants requesting full IBOC digital transmitters as part of equipment replacement projects must include documentation of the station's digital conversion plan demonstrating its programming readiness to begin digital broadcasting upon receipt of PTFP funding. Included should be its plans, if any, to utilize Program Associated Data or the Supplemental Audio Channel when authorized by the FCC. The request for a digital transmitter, in itself, is not sufficient justification to replace an otherwise adequate analog or composite STL. The need for the replacement of the STL should be supported by technical documentation addressing the program channel and interface requirements of the digital transmitter. Digital conversion applications must directly address in its technical exhibits the type of analog/digital signal combining proposed.
Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant funds. NTIA is aware that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) has a grant program focused on projects to convert public radio stations to digital broadcasting. In order to facilitate application processing by both CPB and PTFP, applicants for PTFP funds should clearly identify in their application whether they have applied to CPB for funding and list the equipment requested from CPB. The submission of an application to CPB will have no effect on NTIA's evaluation of the PTFP application. NTIA will coordinate grant awards with CPB to ensure that no equipment is funded for the same applicant by both grant programs.
Given the limited availability of funds, NTIA has emphasized support of basic equipment required for a public broadcast station to serve its local audience (see the Final Rules, §2301.4, passim). NTIA continues to receive more activation and replacement applications than it can fund in any cycle. NTIA has received a few applications for equipment to provide Internet streaming. The applications have not been favorably evaluated by the outside peer reviewers or the national advisory panels.
NTIA has determined that streaming on the Internet goes beyond the provision of a basic local public broadcasting service. Until Internet streaming becomes a basic part of a station's service to its own community, therefore, NTIA will place any applications it receives for streaming equipment in Priority 5B (see §2301.4(b)(5)(ii) of the PTFP Final Rules). Priority 5B relates to equipment required for the production of "programming for regional and national use."
Over the past four years, NTIA has awarded most of its television funds for projects to convert public television stations to digital broadcasting. The FCC's adoption of the Fifth Report and Order in April 1997 required that all public television stations begin the broadcast of a digital signal by May 1, 2003. In FY 2000, NTIA instituted several new policies regarding applications for projects to convert public television stations to digital transmission capability. NTIA continued those policies during the FY 2001, FY 2002 and FY 2003 grant cycles. During these four grant cycles, PTFP was able to assist in the digital conversion of over 200 public television stations by funding projects which contained almost 100 tower-related projects, 190 digital transmitters, over 200 antennas, as well as STLs, intercity microwave relays, encoders, video servers, satellite interconnect, test and monitoring equipment. For FY 2003, NTIA awarded $30.9 million in funds to 79 projects which assisted 116 public television stations in the conversion to digital technologies, and also awarded $3.1 million for eleven urgent television equipment replacement projects. The awards ranged from $42,344 to $1,790,935.
In FY 2004, PTFP policies will change to reflect the progress made by public television stations in constructing transmission facilities required to meet the FCC's mandate to begin digital broadcasting. In addition to eliminating multi-year funding for digital conversion projects, PTFP will focus on funding equipment needed to meet remaining FCC requirements and deadlines. Related changes in application procedures and priorities are explained below.
Before discussing the policies in effect for FY 2004, we wish to clarify our reason for not continuing the policy on multi-year funding which was in effect during the FY 2000-2003 period. NTIA instituted multi-year funding for digital conversion of transmission equipment because we recognized that the conversion of such facilities could not be accomplished by many licensees in the one- to two-year project period which is typical of PTFP awards. Multi-year projects were designed to help applicants which had to convert multiple broadcast transmitters. It also assisted single station licensees who needed additional time to raise funds and rebuild their transmission facility. During the period FY 2000-2003, PTFP awarded multi-year grants to 47 licensees to assist in the digital conversion of 152 stations. The FCC's deadline for beginning digital broadcasts was May 2003. This first phase of digital conversion is almost complete, as virtually every public television station either has begun digital broadcasting or has funded its conversion and has facilities under construction.(2)
There does not appear to be a need for multi-year funding of digital power upgrade or master control projects. The upgrade of low power transmission facilities can be accomplished within the usual one-to-two year PTFP project period. Indeed, the FCC's tentative deadline set at June 2006 to complete these upgrades and the projected cessation of analog broadcasting in December 2006 means that stations must complete these digital upgrade projects within the next two years. We note that PTFP received no multi-year applications in FY 2003.
NTIA recognizes one of the greatest challenges facing America's public television stations is completing the conversion of its broadcast facilities to digital technologies. In addition to the installation of digital transmission equipment, over 350 stations must overcome other technical and financial challenges in order to complete conversion to digital broadcasting. The FCC has established a series of deadlines in its transition plan for digital conversion of television broadcasting in the United States. The deadlines include a number of items, such as replication of analog service, simulcast requirements, digital channel selections and, finally, cessation of analog broadcasting.
NTIA has considered how best to distribute digital conversion funds to public television stations through the PTFP. One of NTIA's goals during the FY 2004 Grant Round is to ensure that PTFP's administrative procedures as well as its funds can support public television's needs in meeting the FCC's deadlines. Another of NTIA's goals is to maintain an acceptable balance between equipment replacement projects and digital television conversion projects.
While the May 1, 2003, deadline has passed, NTIA believes that considerable work remains to complete the digital conversion of America's public television system. NTIA recognizes that a substantial number of digital public television stations were constructed with lower-power facilities that were intended to meet the FCC's initial digital broadcast requirement.(3) Many people who live within the standard coverage area of the station's analog signal (which the FCC refers to as Grade B coverage), particularly residents of rural areas, cannot receive the station's lower power digital signal. The FCC has tentatively concluded that digital public television stations will have until July 1, 2006, to replicate their analog Grade B coverage or to maximize their facilities.(4) Stations that do not increase their power by the FCC's final deadline will lose digital television service protection for the uncovered area. The FCC's tentative deadline of July 1, 2006, is only six months prior to the December 31, 2006, end date of the digital transition.(5)
The transmission facilities of those public television stations constructed at lower power must be upgraded to ensure that people viewing analog public television today will be able to receive public television from digital facilities in the future. Many public television stations will want to begin this transmission upgrade so their full-power digital facilities can be completed by the FCC's tentative July 2006 deadline.
NTIA also recognizes that conversion of transmission equipment to digital technology, while important, is only part in the conversion of a public television station to digital broadcasting. We believe that most stations have an immediate need to convert their basic master control support infrastructure to store, distribute and broadcast digital signals. In the longer term, many stations will also need to convert their production equipment to digital technologies so they can originate local programming at a technical level that is compatible and comparable in quality with productions available from national sources or other local stations.
For the FY 2004 grant cycle, NTIA is revising its funding of digital television equipment to emphasize 1) projects for power increases of lower-power digital facilities, and 2) increased digital conversion of master control equipment.
NTIA intends to remain responsive to the equipment replacement needs of public television stations. NTIA's balancing of equipment replacement and digital conversion applications is discussed in the following sections.
In order to assist public broadcasting licensees in converting to digital technologies, NTIA is modifying its application procedures in the following areas. Sections (1), (2), and (6) are different from the FY 2003 grant cycle.
The two Subpriorities for television digital conversion projects are:
Subpriority A. Television Digital Transmission Equipment. NTIA will assign the following applications for conversion of public broadcasting facilities to advanced digital technologies at the first subpriority level within the Broadcast Other category. These applications are intended to assist public television stations in meeting FCC-imposed deadlines regarding transmission power. These projects are in the highest subpriority in order to ensure digital public television signals to the largest number of United States residents. These applications will receive equal consideration as subpriority A.
- An application to convert the analog transmission facilities of a public television station to digital technology.
- An application to increase the power of a digital public television station which was initially constructed at a lower power in order to meet the FCC's May 2003 requirement. The stations funded should replicate the station's comparable analog Grade B coverage, unless otherwise justified.
- An application to "maximize" the power of a digital public television station in order to increase population coverage. The applications funded will be expected to document significant population increase beyond the station's comparable analog Grade B coverage.
Subpriority B. Television Digital Master Control and Production Equipment. NTIA will assign the following applications for conversion of public broadcasting facilities to advanced digital technologies at the second subpriority level within the Broadcast Other category. Conversion of a public television station's master control and production equipment is the next step in the transformation of public television. These applications will receive equal consideration as subpriority B.
- An application to convert basic master control equipment to digital technologies. In order to be highly competitive, we expect applicants to address how the master control equipment will support multi-channel digital broadcasting.
- An application to convert production equipment to digital technologies. In order to be highly competitive, we expect applicants to address how the equipment will be used to produce programming that is widely distributed on a regional or national basis or that will be used for the creation of both local and national High Definition programming.
NTIA believes that many stations must replace obsolete equipment in order to complete their digital conversion projects and address multi-channel distribution. NTIA is continuing its revised policies to permit the replacement of obsolete equipment as part of digital conversion projects. If the digital conversion application includes the urgent replacement of an existing item of equipment, the application will be considered as a Broadcast Other, rather than as replacement under Priorities 2 or 4.
If the purpose of an application is just for replacement of urgently needed equipment, even though the equipment is drawn from the Digital TV List, the application will be classified as a Priority 2 or 4, as appropriate.
Any application which includes equipment replacement as a justification for the urgency criterion should submit documentation of downtime or other evidence in support of the urgency evaluation criterion as contained in §2301.17 of the PTFP Final Rules. The need to replace current equipment in order to maintain existing services will, in many cases, strengthen the urgency criterion of a digital conversion application.
Because of the requirement that all public television stations begin digital broadcasts, all public television applications, whether submitted for Priority 2, Priority 4 or the Broadcast Other category, should include the station's comprehensive plan for digital conversion and explain how the requested equipment is consistent with that plan. Failure to provide detailed information on the applicant's proposed or existing digital conversion plan will place a television application at a competitive disadvantage during the evaluation of the technical qualification criterion as described in 15 CFR §2301.17 of the PTFP Rules.
Enhanced Interconnection and Optimization Project. NTIA calls applicants' attention to the fact that equipment related to PBS's Enhanced Interconnection and Optimization Project (EIOP) is not included on the Digital TV List. The EIOP project is still under development and, according to the EIOP timetable, the first EIOP-equipped station is not intended to be operational until July 2004. NTIA is following the EIOP project with interest, but believes that it is premature to fund any EIOP equipment at this stage of development.
Production Equipment. NTIA notes that while a television station must use digital transmission and distribution equipment to begin digital broadcasting, digital production equipment is not required to meet the FCC's 2006 deadline. As the deadline approaches, NTIA has reluctantly concluded that, with the funds available to it in FY 2004, it cannot fund television production equipment at the same level as it has prior to the institution of the digital conversion policies of FY 2000.
Television production equipment, however, will continue to be eligible for PTFP funding for urgent equipment replacement under Priority 2 and Priority 4, as appropriate. For the FY 2004 Grant Round, however, NTIA will fund television production equipment replacement applications only for those projects that present a "clear and compelling" case for the urgency of such replacement.
Digital conversion of a public television station's production equipment will improve the station's ability to provide public service to its community. NTIA will now accept digital television production equipment as part of conversion projects and will place these applications in Subpriority B of the Broadcast Other category. In order to be highly competitive, we expect applicants to address how the equipment will be used to produce programming that is widely distributed on a regional or national basis or that will be used for the creation of High Definition programming.
Analog Transmission Equipment. While analog television broadcasting is currently scheduled to end in December 2006, NTIA recognizes that some stations are currently operating with failing analog transmitters.(6)
When making the final selection of awards under the procedures of §2301.17, NTIA will take care to ensure that there is an acceptable balance between projects awarded for equipment replacement projects and those awarded for digital conversion projects. Further, NTIA will consider as part of this balance those stations in the Broadcast Other category (1) which request digital conversion projects and (2) which also include elements of equipment replacement. NTIA will not fund applications in the Broadcast Other category requesting digital conversion to the exclusion of those Broadcast Other applications which include documentation supporting equipment replacement as part of their urgency justification.
At the beginning of NTIA's digital television conversion initiative in FY 2000, NTIA announced (64 FR 72225-72234) that it would permit applicants to include equipment purchased with non-federal funds after July 1, 1999, in a PTFP application for digital television conversion projects. This date was selected to coincide with the beginning of the 2000 fiscal year used by many state and local governments
In the FY 2003 Notice of Closing Date (67 FR 64298-64306), NTIA indicated that it anticipated that July 1, 1999, will be the effective date in the FY 2004 and FY 2005 Grant Rounds for the expenditure of non-federal funds for projects in the Broadcast Other category. For the FY 2004 grant round, we will accept equipment purchased with non-federal funds after July 1, 1999, in a PTFP application for Broadcast Other projects. We expect to use this date for the FY 2005 grant cycle as well.
As already noted, NTIA recognizes that many small stations, primarily in rural areas, will be unable to raise even a 50% local share of the funds required for their PTFP projects. NTIA has long permitted stations to request more than the standard level of Federal support upon a showing of "extraordinary need" per §2301.6(b)(ii) of the PTFP Rules. NTIA will permit applicants to qualify for hardship funding and receive up to a 67% Federal share of their project costs. An applicant can qualify for up to a 67% Federal funding by certifying that it is unable to match at least 60% of the eligible project costs, and either (a) by providing documentation that its average annual cash revenue for the previous four years is $2 million or less, or (b) by providing documentation that the eligible project costs are greater than the applicant's average annual cash revenue for the previous four years.
In addition, NTIA will continue to permit any applicant to provide justification that it has an "extraordinary need" for Federal funding up to the legal limit of 75% of eligible project costs.
In order to gather additional funds to award to stations which qualify under the hardship criteria, NTIA encourages financially able applicants for digital television conversion projects to request a smaller share of Federal funds than the standard 40%. NTIA will add three additional points to the application evaluations from the independent review panels for applicants in the Broadcast Other category who request no more than 25% Federal funding. This provision will give extra credit to applications already highly rated and, based on NTIA's previous experience, this extra credit is often sufficient to move highly rated applications into the range for funding.
When making the final selection of awards, however, NTIA will take care to ensure that there is an acceptable balance between projects awarded to stations requesting a 25% Federal share and those requesting a higher Federal share. NTIA will not fund applications requesting a 25% Federal share to the exclusion of applications meeting the hardship criteria or to the exclusion of those requesting the standard 40% Federal share.
Since 1979, NTIA has funded nonbroadcast distance learning projects through the Special Applications category as established in §2301.4(a) of the PTFP Rules. NTIA encourages applications for innovative or unique distance learning projects which address demonstrated and substantial community needs. For fiscal year 2003, NTIA awarded $1.4 million in funds to eleven grants for distance learning projects. The awards ranged from $42,000 to $304,872.
The growth of digital technologies provides new opportunities for distance learning projects using both broadcast and nonbroadcast facilities. NTIA encourages applicants to consider the use of digital technologies in proposing unique or innovative distance learning projects for funding in FY 2004. Examples of innovative digital applications include projects (1) which use broadband technologies for distance learning, (2) which distribute educational or informational programming via Direct Broadcast Satellite technologies, (3) which provide multi-media content using the digital television transmission infrastructure and delivered through a method that is not a typical broadcast channel, or (4) which incorporate video, voice, graphics and data capabilities for online distance learning services. NTIA also encourages applicants to consider broadcast projects which use the multi-channel capacity of digital television to provide innovative distance learning projects.
All distance learning applications must address substantial and demonstrated needs of the communities being served. NTIA is particularly interested in distance learning projects which benefit traditionally underserved audiences, such as projects serving minorities, people living in rural communities, or those living in disadvantaged areas where distance learning services will provide significant educational opportunities.
NTIA recognizes that, due to the multi-channel capability of digital television, distance learning components may well be a part of a digital conversion application. NTIA will, therefore, consider such distance learning proposals under the subpriorities established in the section related to Television Broadcasting and Digital Conversion. If NTIA determines that a broadcast distance learning project is not part of a digital conversion application, NTIA will evaluate the application pursuant to §§2301.4(b)(6) and 2301.17.
The November 22, 1991, PTFP Policy Statement (56 FR 59168 (1991)) mentioned in the Application Forms and Regulations section discussed a number of issues of particular relevance to applicants proposing nonbroadcast educational and instructional projects and potential improvement of nonbroadcast facilities. These policies remain in effect and will be available to all PTFP applicants as part of the Guidelines for preparing FY 2004 PTFP applications.
NTIA funding assistance is in the form of Grants. Issuance of grants is subject to the availability of FY 2004 funds. Congress has passed an appropriation of $19.75 million for the PTFP. In awarding grants, NTIA will strive to maintain an appropriate balance between traditional grants and those to stations converting to digital broadcasting.
The amount of any grants awarded by NTIA will vary, depending on the approved project. For FY 2003, NTIA awarded $40.3 million in funds to 169 projects, including 68 radio awards, 90 television awards and 11 nonbroadcast awards. The radio awards ranged from $7,979 to $244,442. The television awards ranged from $42,344 to $1,790,935. The nonbroadcast awards ranged from $42,000 to $304,872.
Grants are customarily awarded with a start date of October 1.
Construction Grant award periods customarily range from one to two years. Planning Grant award periods customarily are for one year. These customary project periods may be varied based on the specific circumstances of an individual proposal.
To apply for and receive a PTFP Construction or Planning Grant, an applicant must be: (a) a public or noncommercial educational broadcast station; (b) a noncommercial telecommunications entity; (c) a system of public telecommunications entities; (d) a non-profit foundation, corporation, institution, or association organized primarily for educational or cultural purposes; or (e) a state, local, or Indian tribal government (or agency thereof), or a political or special purpose subdivision of a state.
Non-profit organizations that have never received a PTFP grant must supply (1) Certified copy of their Articles of Incorporation, (2) By-laws, and (3) IRS 501(c)(3) letter. An organization that is a government agency/entity, Indian Tribe, or non-profit organization that has received a prior PTFP grant does not have to submit further documentation of eligibility, unless requested.
An applicant whose proposal requires an authorization from the FCC before it can be constructed must be eligible to receive such authorization. No award will be made until the FCC notifies NTIA that the necessary authorization has been or will be granted.
If an applicant does not meet the eligibility requirements, the application will be rejected and returned without further consideration. An applicant may request a preliminary determination of eligibility any time prior to the Closing Date.
All PTFP grantees are required to provide local matching funds. No part of a grantee's matching share of the eligible project costs may be met with funds paid by the Federal government, except where the use of such funds to meet a Federal matching requirement is specifically and expressly authorized by the relevant Federal statute. Funds supplied to an applicant by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) may be used as a match only upon a clear and compelling showing of need.
PTFP matching requirements are summarized in the following table and explained below.
A PTFP Construction Grant may not, by statute, exceed 75% of the amount determined by NTIA to be the reasonable and necessary cost of the project. NTIA has set specific Federal percentages for various types of projects, as follows:
NTIA provides the same Federal funding share for radio and television Priority 1 signal expansion applications. The funding limitations for Priority 1A and 1B signal expansion applications were discussed in detail in the earlier section regarding Radio Broadcasting signal expansion. In summary, the funding presumption for Priority 1A radio and television applications is a 75% Federal share of eligible project costs. The funding presumption for Priority 1B radio and television applications is either a 75% Federal share or a 50% Federal share as explained in the earlier section.
The general presumption for funding all other radio and nonbroadcast applications is a 50% Federal share and for funding most television applications is a 40% Federal share of eligible project costs. As discussed in Section II above, NTIA has also established provisions for funding digital television conversion projects at a 25% Federal share and at a 67% Federal share, as well as a 40% Federal share of eligible project costs.
Any applicant can provide additional justification for additional funding up to the statutory limit. The justification will be evaluated by the peer review panel and PTFP.
The Agency may provide up to 100% of the funds necessary for the planning of a public telecommunications construction project. The general presumption for projects to plan for a public telecommunications construction project is, however, a 75% Federal funding of eligible project costs. A showing of extraordinary need will be taken into consideration as part of the normal application evaluation process for Planning Grants of up to 100% of the total eligible project cost.
Application Forms, PTFP Final Rules, Closing Date notification and application guidelines materials may be obtained electronically via the Internet at ntia.doc.gov/ptfp. The entire application may be downloaded from the Internet and several forms can be prepared electronically. To obtain a printed application package either (1) write to NTIA/PTFP, Room H-4625, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20230; or (2) send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org; or (3) telephone (202) 482-5802; or (4) fax a request to (202) 482-2156.
All applicants must use the official PTFP Application Form for the FY 2004 grant cycle. This form expires on October 31, 2006. Each page of the official Application Form has the expiration date printed at the bottom and no previous versions of the form may be used. To apply for a PTFP grant, an applicant must file an original and five copies of a complete application in paper form. As noted above, the Application Form is available on the Internet and, upon request, will be provided in printed form. PTFP does not accept pre-applications.
Applicants can complete many parts of the PTFP application on the Internet using the On-Line Fillable Form found on the PTFP website. This form requires no special software. Applicants will be able to save, edit and print their forms. The software will complete all math additions, transfer and place correct figures in appropriate locations, provide help for each question, and check for common errors. The form must be printed and submitted with original signatures. PTFP does not accept facsimile or email applications.
A complete application includes the following items:
After an application has completed the review process described in the next section, Section V, Application Review Information, applicants selected for negotiation may be requested to revise and resubmit Parts I-V of the application.
Applications for all projects are due in the PTFP Office by 6:00 p.m., EST, Wednesday, March 31, 2004. This is the Closing Date. NTIA does not accept a postmark as proof of meeting the PTFP deadline. NTIA does not accept fax or email application submissions, or weekend deliveries. Applicants must ensure that the carrier they use guarantees delivery of the application by the Closing Date. Applicants should note that all material sent via the U. S. Postal Service (including "Overnight" or "Express Mail") is subject to delivery delays of up to two weeks due to mail security procedures at the Department of Commerce. If an application is received after the Closing Date due to (1) carrier error, when the carrier accepted the package with a guarantee for delivery by the Closing Date and Time, (2) significant weather delays or natural disasters, or (3) delays due to national security issues, NTIA will, upon receipt of proper documentation, consider the application as having been received by the deadline. NTIA will not accept applications posted on the Closing Date or later and received after the deadline.
Applicants submitting applications by hand delivery are notified that all packages must be cleared by the Department of Commerce security office. Entrance to the Department of Commerce Building for security clearance is through entrance #10 on the 15th Street side of the building.
As soon as possible after the Closing Date all applicants are sent notices that their submissions have been received and giving the file number assigned to each application by NTIA.
Applications not received by the deadline will be returned to the applicant. NTIA will also return any application that is substantially incomplete, or when it finds that either the applicant or the project is ineligible for funding. Applicants will be informed of the reason for the return of any application.
PTFP applications are subject to Executive Order 12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs," if the state in which the applicant organization is located participates in the process. Usually submission to the State Single Point of Contact (SPOC) needs to be only the first two pages of the Application Form, but applicants should contact their own SPOC offices to find out about and comply with its requirements. The PTFP Internet site has a link to the Office of Management and Budget's home page which has the names and addresses of the SPOC offices. Applicants may directly access the OMB Internet site at (http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants/spoc.html). Printed copies of the SPOC list are available from PTFP.
These grants fund only equipment plus installation costs when installation must be performed by contractors. Eligible equipment for the FY 2004 Grant Round includes the apparatus necessary for the production, interconnection, captioning, broadcast, or other distribution of programming, including but not limited to studio equipment; audio and video storage, processing, and switching equipment; terminal equipment; towers; antennas; transmitters; remote control equipment; transmission line; translators; microwave equipment; mobile equipment; satellite communications equipment; instructional television fixed service equipment; subsidiary communications authorization transmitting and receiving equipment; cable television equipment; and optical fiber communications equipment. No buildings are eligible for funding except for small shelters for transmission equipment
A complete listing of equipment eligible for funding during the FY 2004 Grant Round is posted on the NTIA Internet site and printed copies are available from PTFP. The PTFP website gives sample equipment lists for all types of projects to indicate the quantities and quality level the program supports and it also lists eligible and ineligible equipment. Printed copies of the lists are available on request. NTIA generally does not fund salary expenses, including staff installation costs, and pre-application legal and engineering fees.
Salaries are eligible expenses for all Planning Grant applications, but should be fully described and justified within the application. Planning Grants may be expended to lease office equipment, furniture, and space; purchase expendable supplies; and contract with outside consultants. Planning Grant applications cannot include the cost of constructing or operating a telecommunications facility.
Audits must be performed in accordance with audit requirements contained in Office of Management and Budget Circular A-133, Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations, revised June 30, 1997. OMB Circular A-133 requires that non-profit organizations, government agencies, Indian tribes, and educational institutions expending $500,000 or more in Federal funds during a one-year period conduct a single audit in accordance with guidelines outlined in the circular. Other audits may be conducted by the Office of the Inspector General. Most PTFP grant recipients are divisions of state and local governments or are public broadcasting facilities, all of which routinely conduct annual audits. NTIA will, therefore, fund audit costs only in exceptional circumstances.
Indirect costs for construction applications are not supported by this program. The total dollar amount of the indirect costs proposed in a planning application under this program must not exceed the indirect cost rate negotiated and approved by a cognizant Federal agency prior to the proposed effective date of the award.
The mailing and delivery address for PTFP is:
Hand-deliveries of applications must be made through Room 1874, located at entrance #10 on 15th Street, NW.
PTFP does not accept facsimile or electronic submissions, but does provide an On-Line Fillable Form at its Internet site, www.ntia.doc.gov/ptfp. Further information on the On-Line Fillable Form is contained in part 2 of this section, Content and Form of Application Submission.
Each application that is timely received, is materially complete, and proposes an eligible project will be considered under the evaluation criteria described here. The first two criteria -- Applicant Qualifications and Financial Qualifications -- are qualifying criteria; applications meeting the minimum qualifications on these criteria will be considered for further review. The remaining four criteria are weighted in the evaluation as follows: Project Objectives and Urgency are given the most weight in the evaluation, Technical/Planning Qualifications and Special Consideration are given less weight and are listed in descending order.
(b). Planning Qualifications (planning applicants only). Demonstration of the feasibility of the proposed planning process and timetable for achieving the purpose of the project; that costs proposed reflect the most efficient use of Federal funds; that the applicant has sufficient qualified staff or consultants to complete the project with professional results; and that an evaluation of alternative technologies will be incorporated into the plan, as appropriate.
The Agency provides applicants with guidance in both the online and printed application materials on meeting each of the evaluation criteria.
An applicant's proposed cost sharing is not one of the evaluation criteria which determines whether a grant is awarded. If the proposed cost sharing is above the funding levels discussed in Section III, the justification provided for the cost sharing is evaluated to determine the level of Federal participation in any eventual award.
Each application is evaluated by a review panel comprised of at least three senior broadcasting or distance learning executives whose own organizations do not have an application before NTIA/PTFP. Their evaluations are based upon the above-cited evaluation criteria. In addition, National Advisory Panels of representatives of national public broadcasting organizations make recommendations on each broadcast application under consideration. State telecommunications organizations and State Single Point of Contact offices, per E.O. 12372, also may provide recommendations on applications under consideration.
PTFP places a summary of applications received on the Internet. Listing an application merely acknowledges receipt of an application to compete for funding with other applications. This listing does not preclude subsequent return of the application or disapproval of the application, nor does it assure that the application will be funded. The listing will also include a request for comments on the applications from any interested party. Applicants must make a copy of their application available for public inspection during normal business hours. Any opposing public comments must contain a certification that a copy of the comments has been delivered to the applicant. Public comment and replies from the applicant are considered during the evaluation of the application.
The PTFP program staff prepares summary recommendations for the PTFP Director. These recommendations incorporate the review panels' evaluations and recommendations; technical assessments by engineers; and input from the National Advisory Panels, state Single Point of Contact offices, and state telecommunications agencies. Staff recommendations also consider project impact, the cost/benefit of a project, and whether the review panels consistently applied the evaluation criteria. The PTFP Director considers the summary recommendations prepared by program staff, recommends the funding order of the applications, and presents recommendations to the Associate Administrator, Office of Telecommunications and Information Applications, for review and approval of the recommended slate. The Director's recommendations and the Associate Administrator's review and approval take into account the following selection factors:
Upon approval by the Associate Administrator, the Director's recommendations are presented to the Selecting Official, the NTIA Administrator. The Administrator makes final award selections taking into consideration the Director's recommendations and the degree to which the slate of applications, taken as a whole, satisfies the program's stated purposes.
Prior to award, applications may be negotiated between PTFP staff and the applicant to resolve any differences between the original request and what NTIA is willing to consider funding. Some applications may be dropped from the slate due to lack of FCC authorization, an applicant's inability to make adequate assurances or certifications, or other reasons. Negotiation of an application does not ensure that a final award will be made.
PTFP grant awards are usually announced toward the end of September with a starting date of October 1.
Successful applicants are sent a standard Department of Commerce Grant Award package, Form CD-450, containing all of the terms and conditions of the award. The CD-450 signed by the grants officer is the authorizing document and is sent to the applicant's designated project contact via overnight delivery service. Planning Grant awards include the final approved budget, and Construction Grant awards list the equipment approved for acquisition with grant funds. Two copies of the CD-450 must be signed and returned to the Department of Commerce Grants Office within 30 days.
Unsuccessful applicants are notified by a letter from the PTFP Director. Unsuccessful applications are designated "deferred" and may be re-activated in the next grant round. A given application can be considered in a maximum of three grant rounds.
During the Grant Award Period and the 10-year Federal interest period, the grantee must:
As a general matter, the Department expects grantees to expend local matching funds at a rate at least equal to the ratio of the local match to the Federal grant as stipulated in the grant award. The Department will not make any payment under an award, unless and until the recipient complies with all relevant requirements. Additionally:
The following required reports may be submitted to PTFP via the Internet through the PTFP On-Line Reporting and Tracking System (PORTS) or via the submission of two paper copies.
Financial Status Reports (form SF-269) must be submitted for the six-month periods ending March 31 and September 30, or any portion thereof whether there is any financial activity or not. The reports are due no later than April 30 and October 31, respectively. A final Financial Status Report must be submitted within ninety days after the expiration of the Grant Award Period. Completed reports are submitted to the Grants Office in the Department of Commerce, not to NTIA/PTFP.
The program officers, their email addresses, and their areas of responsibility are listed below:
Frequently Asked Questions about PTFP grants and applications are answered online at
Based upon NTIA's experience during the PTFP 2003 Grant Round, NTIA has determined that it is in the best interest of NTIA and applicants to continue recent policies regarding three procedural matters. The following policies are applicable only to the FY 2004 PTFP Grant Round and resulting awards.
Section 2301.10 provides for submission of applications resulting from catastrophic damage or emergency situations. NTIA would like to clarify its implementation of this provision. For FY 2004 PTFP applicants, when an eligible broadcast applicant suffers catastrophic damage to the basic equipment essential to its continued operation as a result of a natural or manmade disaster, or as the result of significant equipment failure, and is in dire need of assistance in funding replacement of the damaged equipment, it may file an emergency application for PTFP funding at any time. NTIA limits this request to equipment essential to a station's continued operation such as transmitters, towers, antennas, STLs or similar equipment which, if the equipment failed, would result in a complete loss of service to the community.
When submitting an emergency application, the applicant should describe the circumstances that prompt the request and should provide appropriate supporting documentation. NTIA requires that applicants claiming significant failure of equipment will document the circumstances of the equipment failure and demonstrate that the equipment has been maintained in accordance with standard broadcast engineering practices.
NTIA will grant an award only if it determines that (1) the emergency satisfies this policy, and (2) the applicant either carried adequate insurance or had acceptable self-insurance coverage.
Applications filed and accepted for emergency applications must contain all of the information required by the Agency application materials and must be submitted in the number of copies specified by the Agency.
NTIA will evaluate the application according to the evaluation criteria set forth in §2301.17(b). The PTFP Director takes into account program staff evaluations (including the outside reviewers) the availability of funds, the type of project and broadcast priorities set forth at §2301.4(b), and whether the applicant has any current NTIA grants. The Director presents recommendations to the Office of Telecommunications and Information Applications (OTIA) Associate Administrator for review and approval. Upon approval by the OTIA Associate Administrator, the Director's recommendation will be presented to the Selecting Official, the NTIA Administrator. The NTIA Administrator makes final award selections taking into consideration the Director's recommendation and the degree to which the application fulfills the requirements for an emergency award and satisfies the program's stated purposes set forth at §2301.1(a) and (c).
FY 2004 PTFP applicants are not required to submit copies of their PTFP applications to the FCC, nor are they required to submit copies of the FCC transmittal cover letters as part of their PTFP applications. NTIA routinely notifies the FCC of projects submitted for funding which require FCC authorizations.
FY 2004 PTFP applicants for distance learning projects are not required to notify every state telecommunications agency in a potential service area. Many distance learning applications propose projects which are nationwide in nature. NTIA, therefore, believes that the requirement to provide a summary copy of the application in every state telecommunications agency in a potential service area is unduly burdensome to applicants. NTIA, however, does expect that distance learning applicants will notify the state telecommunications agencies in the states in which they are located.
For the FY 2004 PTFP Grant Round, applicants may submit applications to the FCC after the closing date, but do so at their own risk. Applicants are urged to submit their FCC applications with as much time before the PTFP closing date as possible. No grant will be awarded for a project requiring FCC authorization until confirmation has been received by NTIA from the FCC that the necessary authorization will be issued.
For FY 2004 PTFP applications, since there is no potential for terrestrial interference with Ku-band satellite uplinks, applicants may submit applications to the FCC for Ku-band satellite uplinks after a PTFP award is made. Grant recipients for Ku-band satellite uplinks will be required to document receipt of FCC authorizations to operate the uplink prior to the release of Federal funds.
For FY 2004 PTFP applications, NTIA may accept FCC authorizations that are in the name of an organization other than the PTFP applicant in certain circumstances. Applicants requiring the use of FCC authorizations issued to another organization should discuss in the application Program Narrative why the FCC authorization must be in the other organization's name. NTIA believes that such circumstances will be rare and, in its experience, are usually limited to authorizations such as those for microwave interconnections or satellite uplinks.
As noted above, for FY 2004 PTFP applications, NTIA does not require that the FCC applications be filed by the closing date. While NTIA is permitting submission of FCC applications after the Closing Date, applicants are reminded that they must continue to provide copies of FCC applications, as they were filed or will be filed, or equivalent engineering data, in the PTFP application so NTIA can properly evaluate the equipment request. These include applications for permits, construction permits and licenses already received for (1) construction of broadcast station, (including a digital broadcasting facility) or translator, (2) microwave facilities, (3) ITFS authorizations, (4) SCA authorizations, and (5) requests for extensions of time.
For those applicants whose projects require authorization by the FCC, information about FCC filing procedures can be found on the Internet at: www.fcc.gov.
The Department of Commerce Pre-Award Notification of Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements contained in the Federal Register notice of October 1, 2001 (66 FR 49917), as amended by the Federal Register notice published on October 30, 2002 (67 FR 66109), is applicable to this solicitation.
1. In its First Report and Order, MM Docket 95-325, adopted October 10, 2002, the FCC selected the hybrid AM and FM IBOC systems tested by the National Radio Systems Committee as de facto standards for interim digital operation.
2. We note that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting conducted a second Digital Universal Service Fund grant round in 2003 to provide a final opportunity for funding digital transmission equipment to any public television station which still needed financial assistance for its conversion.
3. For example, the FCC permits noncommercial digital television stations to provide a 41 dbu noise-limited signal over their city of license until December 31, 2005, after which they must provide a 48 dbu signal. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting established a special grant program, the Digital Universal Service Fund, which supported the construction of 49 lower power stations.
4. Stations had to file an FCC application by May 1, 2000, if they intended to "maximize" their coverage area, i.e., to increase the power of their digital signal beyond that which would only replicate their analog Grade B coverage.
5. The FCC originally proposed that digital public television stations must replicate their Grade B coverage area (or maximize their coverage) by December 31, 2005. The FCC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, (MB Docket 03-15, released January 27, 2003), "propose[s] to set new replication and maximization protection dates close to the end of transition:...[for] noncommercial DTV licensees- July 1, 2006." (Paragraph 33)
6. NTIA is also aware that the FCC, in its January 15, 2003, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, included a ten-page discussion and requested comments on how it should interpret Section 309(j)(14)(B) of the Communications Act regarding extensions of the December 31, 2006, deadline.
7. Another Standard Form, 424A "Assurances for Construction Programs," is used for projects to construct highways, airports, etc.