WASHINGTON: The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is putting up $44 million in grants to help transition low-power TV stations and translators to digital. Neither subset of broadcast operations were covered in the original digital transition legislation and corollary provisions. LPTVs and translators aren't required to convert to digital on June 12 the same as full-power TV stations, but such operations may lose viewers who have themselves made the transition.
There are two programs for LPTVs and translators--one covering complete conversion, another covering upgrades. The conversion program provides that "stations much purchase a digital-to-analog conversion device to convert the incoming digital signal of a full-power station to analog for transmission on the low-power station's analog channel." Grants in the amount of $1,000 are available for the conversion program.
The upgrade program will reimburse operators for the cost to upgrade analog LPTVs, Class A TV, stations, translators and boosters to digital transmission. Grants in the amount of up to $6,000 are available "to refit" analog equipment for digital transmission, or up to $20,000 to replace analog equipment with digital gear.
The NTIA is in the process of accepting applications, which must be postmarked by June 12, 2009 for the conversion program. Applications postmarked after June 12 will not be accepted. For the upgrade program, applications are due July 13, 2009, and as of Sept. 1, applications are due the first business day of each month as long as funds are available. More information on the program is available at the NTIA's LPTV Web site. – Deborah D. McAdams
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