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Budget deals hard blow to PBS DTV transition

The federal budget proposed by President Bush last week would eliminate more than $80 million in funding for digital infrastructure upgrades at public broadcast stations. This would be included in the overall cuts of more than $92 million for public television in fiscal 2006.

The White House proposal amounts to a 25 percent cut in overall funding for public broadcasting’s operations and infrastructure.

“Public television stations are helping to lead the digital transition and using our resources for a new generation of homeland security and educational purposes,” said John Lawson, president and CEO of the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS). “Cuts this deep would substantially undermine the progress we’ve made, and the promise that the digital transition holds for the communities our local stations serve.”

The budget recommends eliminating funding for the Department of Commerce’s Public Television Facilities Program, which has funded the public broadcasting infrastructure since 1962. The budget also eliminates funding for the PTV Digital Transition Grant Program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture created to assist public television stations serving rural areas in upgrading transmission equipment to bring digital services to rural communities

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