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Deadline Approaches for CPB Digital Radio Conversion Fund

Increased FM power levels and first-time conversions a priority

The emergence of equipment showcased at the recent NAB convention said to be capable of handling the FM IBOC power increase affected deadlines for non-coms to apply for both CPB and PTFP equipment grants. While one deadline has now passed, another is still open.

The deadline to apply to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for its Digital Radio Conversion Fund is May 14. CPB is giving priority to applications for digital radio transmission projects that increase IBOC power levels up to the FCC allowed maximum and funds for first-time conversions. The next priority is equipment for digital content delivery, multicasting and advanced digital radio services

CPB asked for $40 million in digital grant conversion funding for the current fiscal year and received $36 million; it also asked for $36 million for fiscal year 2011 and doesn’t yet know how much it will receive from Congress, CPB’s Don Lockett told attendees of the Public Radio Engineering Conference preceding the NAB Show.

For the current year, CPB awarded radio $6 million and TV $12.9 million in digital grants.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration re-opened the solicitation for Public Telecommunications Facilities Program applications until April 22, to accommodate the increase in digital power levels of radio stations. Stations could either amend their applications or re-file. Previous deadlines were Feb. 4 and 26.

Until just before the NAB convention, the PTFP fund received a total of 225 radio, television and non-broadcast applications seeking approximately $40.7 million in federal funds. Some $18 million has been appropriated for fiscal year 2010 funding. PTFP Director Bill Cooperman told attendees of the Public Radio Engineering Conference he expects grant awards to be announced this September.

For fiscal year 2009, PTFP awarded about $48.5 million for 112 grants. Radio got about one-third of the broadcast funds, with a total of $6.4 million for 63 grants.