Anchorage, AK, Jul 16, 2013 -- USDA-Rural Development (RD) Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund today announced that USDA-RD is accepting applications for grants to help rural public television broadcasters complete the transition to digital signals. Funding is available through the agency’s Public Television Station Digital Transition Grant Program.
Today’s announcement of almost $2.8 million in available funding nationally is part of USDA-RD’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) continued support of telecommunications and broadcast services in rural areas. Funds can be used to acquire, lease or install equipment or software necessary to complete the digital transition.
For example, in October 2006, Alaska Public Telecommunications, Inc. (now called Alaska Public Media) received a grant of $966,075 to develop a modern microwave system supporting digital television service down the Kenai Peninsula. The funds came through the USDA-RD's RUS Public Television Station Digital Transition Grant Program, and the grant was closed successfully in September 2011. The new microwave system improved reliability of KAKM-Channel 7 service to audiences as far away as Seldovia, and the new equipment also pioneered delivery of high-definition television (HDTV) to the Kenai Peninsula.
"Audiences love the crisp, clear pictures of high-def television," said KAKM General Manager Steve Lindbeck. "I had to be convinced that providing the first HDTV signal on the Kenai was the right idea -- and it was!"
The Federal Communications Commission required television broadcasters to convert transmitters to digital signals in 2009, but the deadline for analog-to-digital conversion of translators is September 1, 2015. As a result, many rural stations have not completed full digital transition of their stations across all equipment. Continuation of reliable public television service for all rural residents remains a priority for many rural broadcasters.
The deadline for applications is August 30. For additional information, see Page 42487 of the July 16 Federal Register, or go to: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-07-16/pdf/2013-16953.pdf.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.
USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.