For Immediate Release
October 2, 2000
Contact: Ranjit de Silva
WASHINGTON -- The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today announced the award of $25.8 million in Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP) grants to establish and to strengthen public broadcasting services in communities across the country. The 103 grant recipients are noncommercial telecommunications organizations in 41 States, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands.
"PTFP's FY 2000 awards should greatly assist the public television community in completing the conversion to digital technology," Commerce Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said. "This year's grant awards will help to bring free, over-the-air public digital television signals to 38 communities in 23 states in time to meet the FCC's May 2003 deadline," he said. "I am equally pleased to note that, while accomplishing this for public television, PTFP was able to double its support for our Nation's public radio stations," Mineta added.
PTFP grants are awarded annually to public broadcasting and other noncommercial entities for the purchase of telecommunications equipment. The grants are matched with local funds by each recipient and are used to activate, extend, or improve public radio or public television services. PTFP awards also assist in the construction of distance learning systems.
This year, NTIA is awarding 56 public radio grants, 41 public television grants, five distance learning grants, and one grant to the University of Hawaii for the PEACESAT Project.
Approximately $20 million in awards will go toward assisting public television stations. $14.4 million of the television awards are for TV digital conversion projects. There are 25 such grant awards, 13 for multi-year projects and 12 for single-year proposals. A good example of a multi-year project is a grant being offered to the Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Commission. The award is for the first year of this three year proposal. The FY 2000 award of $1.2 million will purchase digital transmission equipment for the Commission's stations in Alliance, Bassett, Hastings, Lexington, and Merriman. Funding of future years of all multi-year awards will be dependent on the availability of funds and satisfactory performance. Other multi-year digital conversion awards are being offered to public TV entities in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia. NTIA Administrator Gregory L. Rohde noted that "These multi-year awards are the first ever given by the PTFP and permit a large number of stations to move forward with their digital conversion projects. With the awards made this grant round, PTFP will have assisted over 50 public television stations in their conversion to digital television."
Fifty-three PTFP grants will ensure the continued service of public broadcasting stations by replacing worn out equipment. In the case of public television replacement grants, the equipment to be purchased will primarily be digital-ready or digital-compatible, which will also help the stations in their eventual digital conversion. For example, the largest single grant is an award of $1,250,680 to public TV station WCNY-TV, Ch. 15, Syracuse, NY. The project includes the replacement of the station's analog transmitter, the purchase of an antenna and transmission line that will serve both for analog and for digital transmission, and support for WCNY's participation in a shared broadcast tower. This new equipment should substantially ease the station's transition to digital service.
A total of 19 grant awards will provide new public radio services to 434,000 people. The 19 communities benefitting from these awards are located in 15 states. A $339,763 PTFP award, for example, has been offered to the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Lame Deer, Mont., to help it construct a new station bringing the first public radio service to the 38,000 persons residing on the Nation's Reservation. Three other projects will construct or plan for the construction of public radio facilities to serve the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Cherokee, NC, the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Browing, Mont., and the Tohono O'odham Nation reservation, Sells, Ariz.
PTFP also supports the purchase of nonbroadcast equipment for distance learning. Five distance learning proposals -- four for equipment purchase and one for planning -- are being funded in FY 2000. The largest nonbroadcast distance learning award -- for $368,440 -- has been offered to the La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium, La Crosse, Wisconsin. The funds will help the Consortium install two video studios in its new Health Science Center and purchase video classroom equipment for three distant sites in the Wisconsin communities of Black River Falls and Mauston.
A complete list of the FY 2000 PTFP grant awards is available on NTIA's web site at www.ntia.doc.gov or by calling NTIA Public Affairs at 202-501-4425.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) serves as the principal adviser to the President, Vice President and Secretary of Commerce on domestic and international communications and information issues and represents the Executive branch before Congress, other Federal agencies, foreign governments and international organizations.