Alexander, Frist Announce $1.8 Million For Tennessee In Public Television Station Digital Transition Grants

Posted on February 19, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today announced $1.8 million in grant funding for the Upper Cumberland Broadcast Council (WCTE) and West Tennessee Public TV Council (WLJT) through the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to finance the conversion of television services to digital broadcasting for small rural public television stations. The recipients selected for the competitive grant program are from rural areas, have the least resources, and provide the greatest public need to their communities. "Public television reaches more than two million Tennesseans every day with programs providing educational tools for children and adults as well as professional training opportunities for local communities," said Frist. "I applaud this funding, which allows the Upper Cumberland Broadcast Council and the West Tennessee Public TV Council to benefit from the latest in broadcasting technology." "Many rural communities depend on public television stations for information including educational programming, local news and weather, as well as emergency and agricultural reports," Alexander said. "This funding will ensure that more Tennessee communities have access to state-of-the-art technology." The grant funds will allow both stations to conduct a full power transmitter upgrade and provide multicast and high definition service to their regions. The funds will also enable both stations to install digital encoders to originate high definition programming and to install back-up power at the transmitter site for reliability. Both stations are working with the state to develop a statewide Tennessee network for training and professional development for teachers, emergency first responders, and homeland security. In support of this network, the grant will also facilitate a fiber connection from these stations to WNPT Nashville, the hub of the state's networking operations. To meet the requirements of transition to digital broadcasting, a station must install a new antenna, transmitter or translator, and new digital program management facilities consisting of processing and storage systems. If a station is to perform a program origination, which many do, digital cameras, editing and mastering systems are required.