House Zaps PTV Digital Funds

Public broadcasters expressed dismay with a July 9 House move to slash funds aimed at digital buildouts.

The Appropriations Committee subcommittee overseeing the Commerce Department essentially "zero-funded" the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program, a key source of funds for digital build-outs.

The Association of Public Television Stations said the move would make the digital conversion an unfounded federal mandate.

"On one hand, Congress mandated that our stations transition to digital broadcasting or soon go dark," said APTS President and CEO John Lawson. "Then the subcommittee today basically pulls the rug out from under the key source of matching funds to help our stations complete the transition."

The funds could still be added back into the budget before Congress leaves for August recess.