Federal grants from USDA benefit local public broadcasters

Public broadcasters in Alaska and West Virginia benefited from USDA grants.
Date Published
02/10/2014

Back office expenses are often represent the unseen costs of running a nonprofit organization. Frequently, donors aren’t aware of the amount of money that public broadcasters and charitable institutions must pay toward internal infrastructure, equipment and personnel. In truth, these aspects of operating a nonprofit aren’t the most compelling facts to cite when appealing for donations. Instead, it’s far more reasonable to use programs and charitable projects as the central points to refer to during fundraising campaigns.

Where should public media professionals turn when they need to make upgrades and update their equipment? 
One resource for many organizations is federal grants and these can provide major gifts for nonprofits that need revenue to meet evolving broadcasting standards. According to Current.org, the online resource public broadcasting news, indicated the U.S. Department of Agriculture has delivered a series of grants to small, rural public television stations around the country to help them incorporate digital broadcasting technology. Patrice Kunesh, USDA deputy under secretary for rural development, explained the Federal Communications Commission originally mandated all broadcasters make the switch to digital signals by June 2009. However, 2015 is the deadline all stations have to “convert repeaters and low-power TV signals.” The Public Television Digital Transition Grant program has allocated $2.5 million in funding for six organizations to help them reach this benchmark.

Alaskan and West Virginian stations benefit from grants
For instance, Bethel Broadcasting in Alaska received nearly $720,000 in funding to help broadcaster KYUK purchase equipment needed to transition to digital signals, according to local Alaska newspaper the Tundra Drums. The station will use the grant money to convert their existing transmitter to digital in an effort to update the Alaska Rural Communications Service.

“Bethel has more than 60 percent Yup’ik Eskimo residents and serves as an administrative and transportation hub for nearly 60 surrounding Native Alaskan villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region,” Current indicated.

Meanwhile, the top recipient of the federal funds was West Virginia Educational Broadcasting Authority. The public broadcaster will use the $750,000 to help the Charleston, W. Va., production studio transition its analog-based system to a high-definition digital signal, The Associated Press reported. Benefiting from the government grants are the viewers in the six-state region that depend on WVEBA for public broadcasting coverage.

Donor management is crucial for public broadcasters as they adjust to changing industry standards and regulations. It’s important for nonprofit radio and television stations to seek funding from a variety of sources to ensure they’re able to maintain operations.

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