Fed Sets Deadline on LPTV Upgrade Program

WASHINGTON: The fed will stop taking LPTV and translator upgrade applications next summer. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has set the closing date for the program that made $44 million available for upgrading low-power TV stations and translators to digital transmission technologies. NTIA will stop taking applications July 2, 2012.

The NTIA’s grant deadline notice also specifies that applications submitted after July 1, 2011, use 2010 U.S. Census data. Those submitted until that time can rely on the data from 2000. All other requirements for the grant program remain unchanged.

There are around 2,540 LPTVs, 520 Class A stations (LPTVs with interference protection) and around 4,500 licensed translators serving mostly rural areas. Eligible stations can receive reimbursements for up to $6,000 to retrofit analog equipment for digital transmission, or up to $20,000 to replace analog equipment entirely. Applications are due the first business day of each month for as long as funds are available, or until the 2012 deadline. According to the NTIA’s award page, $31,601,600 in funding remains available.

The NTIA’s grant program was launched two years ago, shortly before full-power TV stations had to pull the plug on analog transmitters. LPTVs and translators were not held to the same digital-transition deadline. The Federal Communications Commission last September proposed a transition deadline of mid-May, 2012 for LPTVs and translators. It also proposed moving them out of the 700 MHz band, and designating the Media Bureau to oversee LPTV flash cuts. The proceeding remains open.

~ Deborah D. McAdams

William Cooperman is the NTIA’s point man on the grant program: wcooperman (@) ntia.doc.gov.