Program 101

Program Status: Closed
Application Deadline: TBD
Notice of Funding Availability: Notice of Funding Availability is posted in the Federal Register to indicate when funding has been approved by Congress and signed into law by the President. Applications are accepted annually. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis.

What does this program do?
This program helps  Public Television Stations serving substantially rural populations make the required transition to digital television (DTV) transmission. Funds may be used to acquire and install facilities and software necessary for the transition. While the FCC deadline for main transmitter signals passed in 2009, this program currently addresses the remaining digital broadcast equipment needs, such as rural translators. Grant funds may also be used for associated engineering and environmental studies.

Who may apply?

  • Public television stations that serve rural areas
    • Public Access Cable TV stations or Public, Education and Government access channels are not eligible

What is an eligible area?

  • The project should serve a substantially rural area
  • Check with your General Field Representative (GFR) to determine whether the proposed service area qualifies

How may the funds be used?
Grant funds may be used to acquire, lease, and/or install facilities and software for digital transition, including:

  • Digital transmitters, translators, and repeaters, including all facilities required to initiate DTV broadcasting
  • Power upgrades of existing DTV equipment--including replacement of low-power digital transmitters with authorized power level transmitters
  • 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 data casting equipment
  • Facility lease costs for up to three years
  • Associated engineering and environmental studies
  • For additional detail see Code of Federal Regulations 7 CFR 0000

What kind of funding is available?

  • Grants

What are the grant terms?

  • Non-renewable
  • Matching funds not required
  • Awarded on a competitive basis once a year

Are there additional requirements?

  • Recipients must have legal authority to construct, operate and maintain the proposed facilities and the services proposed
  • All facilities financed with the aid of federal dollars must be used for a public purpose
  • Partnerships with other federal, state, local, private and non-profit entities are encouraged

Who currently participates in this program?

  • Recipient Project Summaries of Fiscal Year 2012.
  • Recipient Project Summaries of Fiscal Year 2011.
  • Recipient Project Summaries of Fiscal Year 2010.
  • Recipient Project Summaries of Fiscal Year 2009.
  • Recipient Project Summaries of Fiscal Year 2008.
  • Recipient Project Summaries of Fiscal Year 2007.
  • Recipient Project Summaries of Fiscal Year 2006.

How do we get started?

  • Applications for this program are accepted through your Telecom Field Representative
  • Application deadlines are set each year. A Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) will be published in the Federal Register. Contact your GFR or check this program page online for updates.
  • Program Resources are available online (includes forms needed, guidance, certifications etc.)

Who can answer questions about this program?

What governs this program?

  • Rural Electrification Act of 1936, as amended in 7 U.S.C. 901 et seq.
  • 7CFR chapter 1735.

Why does USDA Rural Development do this?
The Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program increases economic opportunities and improves the quality of life for families and businesses in rural America by providing loans and loan-guarantees for telecommunications infrastructure in areas where commercial capital isn’t available. The program helps maintain a seamless nationwide telecommunications network that also provides access to broadband for education, healthcare, public safety and jobs for all Americans regardless of where they live.

NOTE: Program details may change over time. Before you begin an application, please confirm you have the most current information by contacting your GFR for assistance or consult the program Instructions listed in the section above titled "What Governs this Program?"

Public Television Station - A public television station is a non-commercial educational television broadcast station that is qualified for Community Service Grants by the Corporation of Public Broadcasting under section 396(k) of the Communications Act of 1934.

Substantially Rural Area  - In this program, a station that serves a city or cities in addition to rural areas is eligible to apply – however, the urban populations are factored into the rurality score. The rurality score is determined by a formula based on FCC broadcast coverage contours and populations of counties and cities with populations over 20,000 that are part of the coverage area.  The application guide explains definitions and the procedure to determine score.

Forms & Resources

The resources on this page are not current, but are available for review.

Program Regulations:

2014 Applicant Information

Important Application Reminders:

  • Toolkit: A new mandatory legal certification was added to the toolkit in 2012. Applicants seeking funding from the RUS Public Television Digital Transition Grant Program must complete the Representation Regarding Felony Conviction or Tax Delinquent Status for Corporate Applicants.
  • Census: The instructions for looking up population data on the census factfinder have changed. Please refer to page 13 of the 2013 Application Guide for detailed instructions. Applicants must use census 2010 data for this grant program in 2013.
  • FCC Maps: For applicants who may have applied in earlier years of the program, please note that the FCC now uses Google Earth maps. This grant program now also requires these Google Earth maps for application coverage contours (NOT Longley-Rice or any other FCC mapping versions used in the past). For updated instructions on the coverage maps that must be provided as part of application, please refer to page 10-11 of the 2013 Application Guide.

2014 Awardee Documents: (mandatory and only applies to applicants who have been awarded a grant)

Program Notices

  • Corporations that have been convicted of a felony (or had an officer or agency acting on behalf of the corporation convicted of a felony) within the past 24 months are not eligible. Any Corporation that has any unpaid federal tax liability that has been assessed, for which all judicial and administrative remedies have been exhausted or have lapsed, and that is not being paid in a timely manner pursuant to an agreement with the authority responsible for collecting the tax liability, is not eligible for financial assistance provided with funds appropriated by the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012, P.L. No. 112-55.
  • All applicants must have a Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number. Any organization that applies for a Public Television Digital Transition grant must provide their DUNS number on the SF-424, “Application for Federal Assistance.” DUNS numbers are available without charge. See DUNS Q&A.
  • Applicants wishing to apply for a Public Television Digital Transition grant online can do so at Your organization must have a DUNS number and complete the SAM registration process before submitting an application online (

Previous Awards: 

For Digital Television questions, please contact:

Telecommunications Program (202) 690-4493