SEPTEMBER 30, 1998

CONTACT: Karen Kirchgasser
 (202) 482-7002


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today awarded $19.8 million in Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP) grants to facilitate expansion of public broadcasting services to communities across the country. The 115 grant recipients are noncommercial telecommunications organizations in 41 states.

"PTFP grants provide vital support to the preservation and expansion of public television, public radio, and distance learning," said Larry Irving, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator. "This year PTFP was able to provide funding for the purchase of digital equipment for public television stations. This will help these stations greatly in making the transition to digital technologies."

PTFP grants are awarded annually to public broadcasting and other noncommercial entities for the purchase of telecommunications equipment. The grants 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 47 public radio grants, 55 public television grants, one radio/television combination grant, 12 distance learning grants, and one grant to the University of Hawaii for the PEACESAT Project.

This year's radio awards will expand access to public radio to more than 453,000 persons who presently do not receive any signal. The following communities will receive either their first public radio service or greatly expanded service: Santa Rosa, CA; Wilmington, DE; Kilauea Town, on the island of Kauai, HI; Leonardtown, MD; Manteo, Buxton, and Waves, NC; Manahawkin, NJ; Lund and Ely, NV; Defiance, OH; and Vernal/Uintah, UT.

PTFP awarded a total of $12.5 million to 50 public television projects to assist with the purchase of digital-ready or digital-compatible equipment. Two of these projects will allow stations to complete their full digital conversion. One of these digital-conversion awards is to KCTS-TV, Ch. 9, Seattle (Federal award: $967,400) and the second is to KQED-TV, Ch. 9, San Francisco (Federal award: $850,176). Another grant (Federal award: $475,487) will permit KERA-TV, Ch. 13, Dallas, TX to share the cost of a digital TV antenna, thus allowing the station to remain on its current tower and greatly assisting it in its digital conversion.

The largest single grant of the 1998 PTFP grant round, with a Federal award of $978,033, will go to the Mississippi Authority for Education Television (MAET) on an emergency basis. The award, which represents half the total project cost, is helping MAET purchase a tall tower for its Jackson public television and public radio stations, along with a TV antenna and transmission line. The new tower was necessitated by the October 23, 1997 collapse of the commercial tower on which the MAET's television antenna had been located.

The biggest distance learning grant totals $594,936 and is going to the California State University-Fresno Foundation. The project will allow the University's Central Valley Technology Center to activate a distance learning system interconnecting sites throughout Fresno, Madera, Kings, and Tulare Counties. Another distance learning grant, to Northern Arizona University (Federal award: $434,715), will extend the University's two-way, fully-interactive video network, NAUNet, to sites on the Hualapai, Navajo, and White Mountain Apache Indian Reservations.

A complete list of the FY 1998 PTFP grant awards is available on NTIA's web site at or by calling NTIA Public Affairs at 202-482-7002.

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.