House Subcommittee cuts public TV DTV funding

Public TV stations got some bad news last week when a House Appropriations Subcommittee eliminated its DTV conversion funds for the 2004 fiscal year.

Part of an appropriations bill that covered a wide range of government agencies, the subcommittee’s members voted to eliminate that portioned National Telecommunications Information Administration's funding of grants for DTV conversion of public TV stations.

The action brought a swift response from John Lawson, president and CEO of the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS). “The House Commerce, Justice, State, Judiciary Appropriations Subcommittee essentially zero-funded the entire PTFP program, and that is going to have an immediate, negative impact on the ability of public television stations to deliver important new services their communities,” Lawson said.

“The action by the subcommittee sends a very mixed signal to public television,” Lawson continued. “On one hand, Congress mandated that our stations transition to digital broadcasting or soon go dark. Then the subcommittee today basically pulls the rug out from under the key source of matching funds to help our stations complete the transition. If not changed in the final bill, this cut to PTFP essentially makes digital conversion an unfunded federal mandate.”

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