USDA awards more than $4.9 million to fund rural public TV digital conversion projects

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner has announced that public TV networks and stations in nine states will receive $4.97 million to provide digital broadcasting services to rural residents. The funds are being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Public Television Digital Transition Grant program.

A $1 million grant will be provided to Northern Michigan University’s WNMU-TV/DT, which provides targeted educational and instructional programming to grade school and high school students, along with those attending community colleges in the central upper peninsula of Michigan. The station, which also serves part of northeastern Wisconsin, will convert its analog master control system to digital. This change will allow the station to provide more custom-tailored programming to students in the region through multicasting, a feature inherent to digital TV.

Nebraska Educational Television (NET) serves rural areas of the state with fourteen TV translators. A $294,950 rural development grant will help NET replace seven of the translators with equipment that can provide digital service. NET provides services to some schools and rural households that may not receive other over-the-air TV signals.

Oregon Public Broadcasting will receive $138,106 to install a digital TV translator to serve Baker City, a former frontier gold mining community in the eastern part of the state of fewer than 10,000 residents. The translator will allow the public broadcasting system to provide improved educational programming to the community.

A complete list of the grant recipients can be viewed at: