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Public Television Station Digital Transition Grant Program

Grant: Public Television Digital Transition Grant Program  
Agency: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Division: Rural Utilities Service (RUS)
Deadline: July 7, 2014

The Grant Center will host a technical assistance conference call with USDA on Wednesday, June 11, 2014, at 1:00 p.m. EDT. More information, including registration, is here.

Description: This program assists public television stations serving substantial rural populations in transitioning to digital broadcast television transmission. Grant funds may be used to acquire, lease and/or install facilities and software necessary to the digital transition. Specific purposes include:

  • Digital transmitters, translators and repeaters, including all facilities required to initiate DTV broadcasting. All broadcast facilities acquired with grant funds shall be capable of delivering DTV programming and HDTV programming, at both the interim and final channel and power authorizations. There is no limit to the number of transmitters or translators that may be included in an application.
  • Power upgrades of existing DTV transmitter equipment, including replacement of existing low-power digital transmitters with digital transmitters capable of delivering the final authorized power level.
  • Studio-to-transmitter links.
  • Equipment to allow local control over digital content and programming, including master control equipment.
  • Digital program production equipment, including cameras, editing, mixing and storage equipment.
  • Multicasting and datacasting equipment.
  • Cost of the lease of facilities, if any, for up to three years.
  • Associated engineering and environmental studies necessary to implementation.

There are no significant changes to the application process this year. USDA has asked the Grant Center to remind applicants that projects must clearly be for a digital transition purpose, and must clearly demonstrate this in the narrative. Due to the limited funds, USDA will focus on projects at stations still providing content in analog or SD, and upgrading to be fully digital (or HD compatible). Maintenance and reliability upgrades - unless they are in some way incidental or are really part of the digital transition - are not eligible. Project expansions, either doing new things with digital that were not being done with analog, or reaching new geographic areas that did not have service before, are not eligible. 

Fit for public broadcasting: This program is specifically for public television stations. In FY 2012, 10 awards were made to stations for transmitter equipment, translators, studio and production equipment, master control equipment and microwave equipment. Read about these stations here.

Eligibility: Public television stations are the only eligible applicants for this program. All stations applying must serve a rural area.

Anticipated funding: The amount available for grants for FY 2014 is $2,000,000. The maximum amount for grants is $750,000 per public television station per year.

How to apply: Application materials are available online. Completed applications can be submitted by mail, or electronically via Online submission requires registration, a process that usually takes three to five business days but can take as long as four weeks. Be sure to visit and begin registering well in advance of the deadline.

If submitting a paper application by mail, please send to the following address:
Telecommunications Program, RUS
1400 Independence Ave. SW
Room 2844, STOP 1550
Washington, DC 20250-1550

Program notice
Program website
2014 Public Television Application Guide
2014 Public Television Toolkit
USDA Resources
FY 2013 Recipients
Listen to a conference call with USDA on the 2011 competition
Listen to a conference call with USDA on the 2012 competition


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Read the Grant Center for Public Media's June 2015 newsletter.
Read the Grant Center for Public Media's April 2015 newsletter.