|FEDERAL FUNDING OPPORTUNITY FY 2005|
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, Tuesday, March 1, 2005.
Funding Opportunity Description: 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: $19.8 million; approximately 100 awards.
Funding Instrument: Grant
Eligible Applicants: 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.
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 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 2005 grant cycle. The four parts in this section are:
1. Eligible Projects and Priorities 2. Radio Broadcasting, Expansion and Digital Conversion 3. Television Broadcasting and Digital Conversion 4. Nonbroadcast (Distance Learning) Projects
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, the emphasis of applications received for expansion projects has changed from requests for 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.
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.
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.
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 2005 grant round.
For FY 2005, 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 2005 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.
Broadcast Other, 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 or an application to add a digital exciter to a digital-upgradable transmitter. 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.
- An application for additional equipment necessary to originate programming utilizing the Supplemental Audio Channel, when authorized by the FCC. In order to be highly competitive, an application must document that current equipment is inadequate to program the Supplemental Audio Channel and that the requested equipment is required.
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 2005 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 2005 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 2005 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. While NTIA will coordinate grant awards with CPB, it is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that no PTFP-funded equipment is funded 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 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."
The current Public Radio Satellite System (PRSS) project to modernize its delivery services will retrofit all downlinks at participating stations, place two streaming decoders and two storage receivers at each station, and also will supply an automation system where necessary. According to the PRSS schedule, the modernized delivery system should be completed during the Summer 2005.
NTIA recognizes that additional stations that affiliate with the PRSS may require equipment in order to participate in the system. NTIA also recognizes that some PRSS stations may have a justified need for additional equipment to fully utilize PRSS services. All applications for PRSS-related equipment must document the need for the requested equipment to fully serve their community.
Applications for PRSS-related equipment for projects which would bring nationally distributed programing to a geographic area for the first time will be placed in Priority 1C. Other applications seeking PRSS-related equipment will be placed in Priority 2 or Priority 4A, according to the category in which the applicant otherwise qualifies for equipment replacement projects.
For many years PTFP has funded stand-by power generators and Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) units for existing stations when an applicant has documented a pattern of frequent transmitter power outages accompanied by delayed restoration of power. Station activation projects have included stand-by power equipment only if justified by circumstances at the site where the transmitter was to be installed. Such projects will continue to be eligible for funding, but recent events have prompted NTIA to consider other conditions that might justify PTFP support for such equipment.
As a result, PTFP will now regard stand-by power generators and uninterruptible power supply units as essential equipment when justified as discussed in this section. Applications seeking such equipment will be placed in Priority 2 or Priority 4A, according to the category in which the applicant otherwise qualifies for equipment replacement projects. PTFP is prepared to support only the minimum level of equipment required to keep a station's signal on the air. Stand-by power for STLs may be funded if their inclusion is justified in the same way as transmitters. Emergency power for origination equipment will be considered in addition to transmission equipment when the applicant demonstrates that such equipment is integral to the emergency service it provides. Stand-by generators and UPS units to provide emergency power to entire facilities are not contemplated for PTFP support.In order to be highly competitive, applicants must support the need for stand-by power by documenting one or more of the following conditions—
(1) the station is part of a state/regional system to which the public is referred by local authorities for information during an emergency, such as an evacuation from a storm or other event; or
(2) the station is a relay point for the distribution of emergency information to get it to transmitters beyond its local coverage area; or
(3) the station is the sole source of emergency information in its service area in contrast to a station that is one of many in area broadcasting the EAS; or
(4) the station has experienced a pattern of frequent transmitter power outages accompanied by delayed restoration of power.
Over the past five 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, FY 2003, and FY 2004 grant cycles. During these five grant cycles, PTFP was able to assist in the digital conversion of approximately 250 public television stations by funding projects which contained over 100 tower-related projects and over 200 digital transmitters and antennas, as well as STLs, intercity microwave relays, encoders, video servers, satellite interconnect, test and monitoring equipment. For FY 2004, NTIA awarded $9.4 million in funds to 30 projects which assisted public television stations in the conversion to digital technologies, and also awarded $4.3 million for 20 urgent television equipment replacement projects. The awards ranged from $22,000 to $1,853,70l. This first phase of digital conversion is almost complete, as nearly every public television station either has begun digital broadcasting or has funded its conversion and has facilities under construction.
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 for the FY 2005 grant round and making the following changes from the FY 2004 grant cycle. See Sections (1), (2), (4), and (6) below for the details on these changes.(1) Subpriorities for digital conversion projects.
• Digital master control and production equipment, for either replacement or digital conversion will receive equal consideration as Broadcast Other, Subpriority B.
• Production equipment, whether for new digital facilities or as replacement equipment, will now be placed in Subpriority B of the Broadcast Other category.
• Digital conversion of translators and LPTV stations has been authorized by the FCC without a deadline. These applications will be placed in Subpriority B.
(2) Equipment eligible for digital television conversion projects and equipment replacement.
• Equipment eligible for digital television conversion and replacement has been revised in the on-line Digital TV equipment list, and includes studio and field cameras as well as digital television translators.
• Stand-by power generators and Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) units have been added to the equipment list for digital conversion and equipment replacement projects.
(3) Effective date for expenditure of local matching funds for digital television conversion projects.
• No change from FY 2004. July 1, 1999 remains the effective date in the FY 2005 grant round for the expenditure of non-Federal funds for projects in the Broadcast Other category.
(4) Funding levels for television projects.
• Fifty (50) percent Federal funding will be the general presumption for digital television conversion and television equipment replacement projects.
(5) Use of Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) matching funds.
• No change from FY 2004. NTIA has limited the use of CPB funds for the non-federal share of PTFP projects to circumstances of "clear and compelling need."
(6) Coordination with the CPB and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), U.S. Department of Agriculture.
• Applicants must clearly identify in their applications whether they have applied to CPB or RUS for funding, and list the equipment requested from CPB or RUS.
• It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that no PTFP funded equipment is also funded by another of these grant programs.
For the FY 2005 grant cycle, NTIA will adopt the following policies regarding digital television conversion and equipment replacement projects.
Broadcast Other Subpriority A. Television Full-Power 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 the FCC-imposed July 1, 2006, deadlines regarding transmission power. These projects are in the highest subpriority in order to ensure digital public television signals reach the largest number of United States residents. These applications will receive equal consideration as subpriority A.
- 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.
- An application to convert the analog transmission facilities of a public television station to digital technology.
Broadcast Other Subpriority B. Equipment Replacement Applications and Other Digital Conversion Projects. NTIA will assign the following applications at the second subpriority level within the Broadcast Other Category.
- Digital Conversion and Replacement of Master Control and Production Equipment. Conversion of a public television station's master control and production equipment is generally considered the next required step in the transition toward full digital conversion. As stations proceed to construct a digital master control, acquire studio and field production equipment, and upgrade a production control room, it is necessary that the equipment and systems be compatible and consistent with the digital progress within each station and with public television standards nationwide.
- An application to convert a translator or LPTV station to digital. The FCC has authorized the digital conversion of translators and LPTV stations but has not established a deadline for this conversion. Applications for digital conversion of translators and LPTV stations will be placed in this Subpriority B category and will be funded only if the project receives a Construction Permit from the FCC.
NTIA is posting on its Internet site (www.ntia.doc.gov/ptfp), a listing of eligible digital equipment identified as the Digital TV List. Printed copies of this list are also available from PTFP at the address shown in the Address section of this document. This list takes into consideration all aspects of full digital conversion and includes equipment for transmission, master control, production studio control, studio production, and field production.
For applications to be competitive in this Subpriority B category, applicants are urged to include a summary of their plan for full digital conversion and how the requested equipment would be compatible and consistent with that plan. This digital conversion plan should be incorporated into the explanation that addresses the technical qualifications criterion in the application. Failure to provide information on the applicant's full 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.
Integrated Master Control Systems. Applicants may request funds for an integrated master control system during the FY 2005 grant round. NTIA will also permit grant recipients to use PTFP funds awarded for the urgent replacement of master control equipment towards the purchase of equipment compatible with integrated master control systems. Given the limited amount of funds available for award, NTIA anticipates that most master control projects funded by PTFP in FY 2005 will be for individual items of equipment, such as automation systems or a routing switcher, rather than for full integrated master control systems.
Replacement of Analog and Other Equipment. NTIA recognizes that stations may require the urgent replacement of equipment that is not part of a stations digital conversion plan. Applicants may submit Priority 2 (or Priority 4) applications when appropriate for the urgent replacement of items such as towers or microwave equipment necessary to ensure continued service. (Requests for towers or microwave equipment which are part of a station's digital conversion plan should be requested under Subpriority B, in the Broadcast Other category.)
NTIA recognizes that some stations are currently serving their primary viewers with failing analog transmitters. Although the date for shut-down of analog television broadcasting is not fixed, the FCC is working on a plan to bring the digital transition to an end in early 2009. (6) NTIA is reluctant to make major investments in analog transmission equipment at this time, but will fund analog transmitter replacements in "clear and compelling" situations where replacement is necessary to maintain public television service. In order to be highly competitive, we expect applicants for replacement of analog transmission equipment to thoroughly document the urgent need for replacement and the availability and cost of replacement parts. Applicants should also discuss the usage of the requested analog equipment after the transition to digital is complete, thereby strengthening the protection of the Federal investment in the transmitter (e.g., whether a frequency change for digital is contemplated, thereby permitting the reuse of the analog transmitter on the digital channel). Due to the approaching shut-down of analog television broadcasting, NTIA anticipates that, in future grant cycles, PTFP would fund the replacement of analog transmitters only on an emergency basis pursuant to §2301.10 of the PTFP Rules.
Stand-by Power Generators and Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) units. For many years PTFP has funded stand-by power generators and Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) units for existing stations when an applicant has documented a pattern of frequent transmitter power outages accompanied by delayed restoration of power. Station activation projects have included stand-by power equipment only if justified by circumstances at the site where the transmitter was to be installed. Such projects will continue to be eligible for funding, but recent events have prompted NTIA to consider other conditions that might justify PTFP support for such equipment.
As a result, PTFP will now regard stand-by power generators and uninterruptible power supply units as essential equipment when justified as discussed in this section. Applications seeking such equipment will be placed in Priority 2 or Priority 4A, according to the category in which the applicant otherwise qualifies for equipment replacement projects. PTFP is prepared to support only the minimum level of equipment required to keep a station's signal on the air. Stand-by power for STLs may be funded if their inclusion is justified in the same way as transmitters. Emergency power for origination equipment will be considered in addition to transmission equipment when the applicant demonstrates that such equipment is integral to the emergency service it provides. Stand-by generators and UPS units to provide emergency power to entire facilities are not contemplated for PTFP support.
In order to be highly competitive, applicants must support the need for stand-by power by documenting one or more of the following conditions —
(1) the station is part of a state/regional system to which the public is referred by local authorities for information during an emergency, such as an evacuation from a storm or other event; or
Digital Television Translators. In September 2004 the FCC authorized the use of digital television translators and LPTV stations. Equipment required for these projects has been added to PTFP's equipment list.
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, as part of their local match 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 2004 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 2005 grant round, we will accept equipment purchased with non-federal funds after July 1, 1999, in a PTFP application for Broadcast Other projects.
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 2004, NTIA awarded $1.7 million in funds to 16 grants for distance learning projects. The awards ranged from $15,617 to $332,135.
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 2005. 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 2005 PTFP applications.
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, television, and nonbroadcast applications is a 50% Federal share.
Any applicant can provide additional justification for additional funding up to the statutory limit. The justification will be evaluated by 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 2005 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, Tuesday, March 1, 2005. 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, or (2) significant weather delays or natural disasters, 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 the designated Administrative Contacts of all applicants are sent notices by email or postcard 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 reject and return any application that is materially 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 2005 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 2005 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.
The competitive review process may include the following: evaluation by PTFP staff; technical assessment by engineers; an evaluation based on the above criteria by at least three outside reviewers, all of whom have demonstrated expertise in either public broadcasting or distance learning and whose organizations do not have an application before NTIA/PTFP; and rating by a national advisory panel, composed of representatives of major national public radio and television organizations. 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 reviewer's ratings are provided to the PTFP staff and a rank order is prepared by priority and score. 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 Administrative 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 in paper copy to the grants office, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Grants and Agreements Management Division (NIST/GAMD) 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 NIST/GAMD, 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 www.ntia.doc.gov/ptfp and in printed application materials.
Questions regarding Department of Commerce grant policies may be directed to:
Joyce Bringham NIST/GAMD Grants Officer
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.
1. 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. See Digital Audio Broadcasting Systems and Their Impact on the Terrestrial Radio Broadcast Service, First Report and Order, MM Docket No. 99-325, 17 F.C.C. Rcd. 19990 (2002).
2. 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.
3. See Second Periodic Review of the Commission's Rules and Policies Affecting the Conversion to Digital Television, Report and Order, MD Docket No. 03-15, RM 9532, FCC 04-192, 2004 FCC Lexis 5129,*4 (2004). Public television stations had to notify the FCC by November 5, 2004, if they intend their digital channel to replicate their analog Grade B service or 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. The Report also established July 1, 2006, as the deadline for public television stations to complete their replication or maximization.
4. Amendment of Parts 73 and 74 of the Commission's Rules to Establish Rules for Digital Low Power Television, Television Translator, and Television Booster Stations and to Amend Rules for Digital Class A Television Stations, Report and Order, MB Docket No. 03-185, 19 F.C.C. Rcd. 19331 (2004). In the Report and Order, the FCC also declined to authorize on-channel digital boosters.
5. 47 U.S.C., 390(1).
6. Testimony of Michael K. Powell, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission, before the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, United States Senate, September 8, 2004 (available at http:/!commerce.senate.gov/hearings/testimony.cfm?id=1300&wit_id=1943).
7. Policies in effect during the FY 2000 - FY 2004 grant rounds also provided a 3-point bonus for applicants that requested only a 25% Federal share and a 67% Federal share for stations qualifying for hardship funding. With the return to the presumption of a 50% Federal share, the 25% and 67% levels are no longer in effect.
8. PTFP considers money to be obligated when the applicant enters into any sort of binding commitment to spend the money. This means the formal acceptance of a bid offering or the issuance of a purchase order.
9. Another Standard Form, 424A "Assurances for Construction Programs," is used for projects to construct highways, airports, etc.