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Save the funding for community radio infrastructure

Public Telecommunications Facilities ProgramEvery year scores of community and public radio stations apply for funding from the Department of Commerce’s Public Telecommunications Facilities Program. The venue funds a host of capital expenses that many of these stations can’t afford otherwise. The cash goes to upgrading transmission towers, funding shelters for transmitters, and buying new control room equipment, console furniture, auxiliary power gear, air conditioners to protect servers from hot weather—all that good stuff and more.

So, of course, there’s got to be a politician somewhere who thinks this good deed ought not to go unpunished. His name is Representative Charlie Wilson (D-OH), and Wilson actually thinks he’s going to reduce the deficit by killing this fund.

No kidding. Yes way. He’s for real submitted a bill to kill PTFP. Here’s Wilson’s statement on the issue.

TRIMMING THE FAT

1. Wilson is the LEAD SPONSOR of an upcoming bill to eliminate the Public Telecommunications Facilities Grant Program. In FY 2010, this program received $18M in federal funds. Once all television signals were converted to digital in June 2009, this grant program was no longer needed as it pertained to analog service facilities. President Obama zeroed out this program in his FY2011 budget proposal, but it is unlikely that Congress will pass a budget resolution this year which could result in the program continuing to be funded. Congressman Wilson is proactively making sure that a defunct program will not receive funding or become a place holder for other funding.

Eighteen million whole bucks! Woah. There you go. That’s going to cut down the national debt, like, not at all.

Ending PTFP, however, will hurt a boatload of community stations that really need this money to keep up their infrastructures. It appears from Wilson’s statement that he hasn’t even actually looked at the program and noticed that it funds radio stations, which did not go through the government’s DTV transition program.

Apparently there’s talk that the radio end of PTFP could be funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Please. The CPB hasn’t got any money for this. It’s too busy helping fund the Public Broadcasting System so that PBS can distribute a three hour worshipful TV documentary about Ronald Reagan’s former Secretary of State George Schultz, funded by his pals.

The National Federation of Community Broadcasters is fighting to keep PTFP alive. Go to NFCB’s site and help them.


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