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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: August 30, 2013

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.

New in the 2013 grant guidelines are a few key elements you should be aware of in preparing your application:

  • Accessing correct census data: The instructions for looking up population data on the census factfinder have changed. Applicants must use census data from the year 2010 in the FY 2013 competition. Specific instructions on how to access 2010 population data using the census factfinder are available in the Grant Application Guide (page 13).
  • Core coverage area maps: The FCC no longer generates new census tiger maps for coverage contours, and has since replaced them with a few alternatives. Stations are encouraged to open the KML (keyhole markup language) file in Goggle Earth. By using Goggle Earth, you will be able to see the names of both counties and county borders. More detailed instructions are found in the Grant Application Guide (page 10-11).
  • Federal Obligations Certification on Delinquent Debt: Stations must fill out this new form, introduced in 2012, as part of their application. See the Application Toolkit for more information.

Fit for public broadcasting: This program is specifically for public television stations. In FY 2012, 10 awards were made to stations for transmittor 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 2013 is $2,775,327. 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
2013 Public Television Application Guide
2013 Public Television Toolkit
USDA Resources
FY 2012 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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