Feds Disperse $35 Million for LPTV Digital Transition
WASHINGTON: The federal
government has distributed $35 million for transitioning low-power TV stations
and translators to digital technology. A total of $44 million was allocated in
May, 2009, for helping LPTV and translator stations upgrade their operations. A
transition deadline for LPTVs and translators had not been set when the program
was put in place, but the FCC recently released a Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking suggesting an end date in mid-2012.
The federal grant program is being administered by the Commerce Department through
the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. One program was
set up for covering conversion technology, and another for upgrades. The first
program allowed for grants up to $1,000 for stations to purchase
digital-to-analog conversion equipment for converting incoming full-power
digital signals to analog for broadcasting. The second program supporting
facilities upgrades allowed for grants up to $6,000 to “refit” analog equipment
for digital transmission, or up to $20,000 to fully replace analog gear. The
of eligible equipment includes transmitting and receiving antennas,
translators, line and related equipment.
The fund was established in 2008 with an allocation of $65 million, with the
allowance that a portion could be used for the digital-to-analog converter box
program. Under that program, U.S. residents were able to obtain $40 coupons
good toward set-tops that would decode digital signals for analog TV sets. NTIA
transferred $16.2 million of the LPTV fund into the converter-box program.
Licensed LPTV, Class A, translator and booster stations are eligible for the
conversion and upgrade grants. There are around 7,000 in the country. Applications
are due the first business day each month as long as funds are available. There
is around $9 million left in the fund, based on the running total.
All full-power TV stations in the country completed the digital transition last
June. The same deadline did not apply to the low-power classes, and none has
officially been established. The FCC’s notice was issued in late September,
with a comment-and-reply period of 90 days subsequent.
-- Deborah D.
September 20, 2010: “FCC Tees Up LPTVs for
The Federal Communications Commission is targeting mid-2012 for requiring
all low-power TV stations to shut down analog transmissions.