OCTOBER 4, 1999 (202) 501-4425


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has awarded $19.6 million in Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP) grants to establish and to strengthen public broadcasting services in communities across the country. The 93 grants were awarded on September 30 to non-commercial telecommunications organizations in 39 states and the District of Columbia.

"PTFP continues to provide important support to public television stations, public radio stations, and academic institutions engaged in distance learning," said Larry Irving, assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information and the NTIA Administrator. "And, once more, PTFP has awarded funds that will ease public television's difficult transition to digital technology."

PTFP grants are awarded annually to public broadcasting and other non-commercial 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.

NTIA is awarding funds for 37 public radio projects, 46 public television projects, nine distance learning projects, and one award to the University of Hawaii for the PEACESAT Project.

Approximately half the funds awarded ($9.2 million) will be offered to public television stations to assist them in converting their facilities to the new digital standard. Of these, seven grants ($4.6 million) will permit the recipient-stations to initiate digital television broadcasts. The largest of these seven grants is being offered to KAET-TV, Ch. 8, licensed to Arizona State University, Phoenix. That grant's Federal award will be $1,028,450. (This grant is also the largest grant award being offered by PTFP this grant round.) The other six recipients of digital-conversion awards are: KPBS-TV, San Diego, CA; WSRE-TV, Pensacola, FL; WTVS-TV, Detroit, MI; KTCI-TV, St. Paul, MN; WNJT-TV, Trenton, NJ; and KERA-TV, Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX.

In addition to these seven grants, an additional $4.6 million in equipment replacement funds will assist stations in completing major phases of digital television conversion projects. For example, two major microwave replacement grants are key requirements for future digital conversion of statewide public television systems. One grant, a $939,635 award to Prairie Public Television, Inc., Fargo, North Dakota, will replace that system's analog microwave link from Fargo to Bismarck with digital equipment. The second award, an $810,667 grant to Alabama Public Television, Birmingham, will complete the replacement of the statewide microwave analog network with digital technology. Besides assisting in digital conversion, these projects will work to ensure that viewers in North Dakota and Alabama continue to receive reliable public television service. Additional replacement projects that will complete major milestones of phased digital conversion projects include the funding of seven digitally compatible television transmitters, two transmitters in Kentucky, two in Maine, and one transmitter each in California, Ohio and Florida.

The total funds awarded for television projects were $15.2 million, almost all of which will serve to advance the grant recipient's digital conversion efforts.

PTFP awarded $2.1 million to support radio projects. This year's awards to public radio stations include projects that will expand access to public radio to more than 175,000 persons who presently do not receive any such signal. Communities to receive a first public radio service because of these grants include Cape May, New Jersey; Jackpot, Nevada; Mojave, California; and Grand Canyon Village, Arizona.

The biggest distance learning grant, which totals $450,086, has been offered to Crownpoint Institute of Technology, Crownpoint, New Mexico. The grant will help the Institute purchase video classroom and microwave equipment. The Institute will use the equipment to interconnect with the distance learning system of Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff.

In addition to the grants announced today, earlier during the year NTIA awarded six high priority service extension and emergency grants. Those six grants total $2.1 million in Federal funds and bring the total awards made by PTFP during FY 1999 to $21.7 million.

A complete list of the FY 1999 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.