Public broadcasters get digital aid

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Public broadcasters this week received $40 million in federal funds to help pay for the transition to digital television and upgrades.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration Monday. The funds will be matched by $68 million raised by the recipients. The money will be used to assist 52 state public TV networks and individual stations pay for the conversion to digital transmissions, with another 11 public TV organizations getting payments for general equipment replacement.

The largest grant was $1.8 million issued to the Mississippi Authority for the DTV conversion of its statewide network.

Some 28 radio grants were issued for basic equipment upgrades, while eight were slated to extend public radio signals to 300,000 unserved residents in rural parts of California, Iowa, Minnesota, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Alaska. Grants also were issued to a low-power radio station in Lakeport, Calif. and to Minnesota Public Radio for a new tower for its stations in Bemidji, Minn.

The grants were awarded under NTIA's 35-year-old Public Telecommunications Facilities Program, which assists planning and construction. Last year the program awarded $28.5 million to 103 organizations in 41 states and territories. - Bill McConnell

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