USDA Announces Funding Opportunity for Rural Digital Television Projects

Anne Mayberry
District of Columbia
Release Date
Jul 16, 2013

Rural Development Acting Under Secretary Doug O’Brien today announced that USDA is accepting applications for grants to help rural public television broadcasters complete the transition to digital signals. Funding is available through the Department’s Public Television Station Digital Transition Grant Program.

Today’s announcement of almost $2.8 million in available funding is part of USDA’s continued support of telecommunications and broadcast services in rural areas. Funds can be used to acquire, lease or install equipment or software necessary to complete the digital transition.

For example, in 2011, Northern Minnesota Public Television Inc. was awarded a grant to complete the digital transition of KAWE-TV’s transmitter in Bemidji as well as the purchase of digital production equipment. The project ensures that the benefits of digital TV are extended to all of the station’s customers in northern and central Minnesota, including five Native American reservations.

The Federal Communications Commission required television broadcasters to convert transmitters to digital signals in 2009, but the deadline for analog-to-digital conversion of translators is September 1, 2015. As a result, many rural stations have not completed full digital transition of their stations across all equipment. Continuation of reliable public television service for all rural residents remains a priority for many rural broadcasters.

The deadline for applications is August 30. For additional information, see Page 42487 of the July 16 Federal Register, or go to

President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.