At NTA convention, NTIA provides a peek inside grant program

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) sent a four-person contingent to the National Translator Association Convention in Denver last week to talk about their grant program for digital transmitters for Class A, LPTV, and TV Translator stations.  (We blogged about that program last week here.) They cleared up a couple of points and left at least one major question still unresolved.

We learned that while the application deadline for stations with the highest priority is July 13, 2009, as previously reported, the deadline for the second round is September 1, 2009, and subsequent rounds will close on the first of each month thereafter. (Note that this corrects our earlier report that the second round deadline would be August 13; to avoid confusion, we are also correcting that point in our original post.)

Also, you must purchase your digital transmission plant before you even apply to NTIA, let alone get a grant.   Thus, you must put yourself at financial risk before knowing whether you will get any reimbursement money.  You can start an application online and figure out how many priority points you have without actually completing the filing, so at least you don’t have to stab completely in the dark.

An important open question is whether you must have made full payment for your digital equipment before you apply or whether you may finance the purchase with installment payments to the vendor.  In other words, you do have to be legally obligated to pay for the equipment, but you may not have to lay out the full purchase price in cash.  NTIA is still mulling over that question.

NTIA strongly recommends that applications be prepared on online and then printed on old-fashioned paper and sent by an express delivery service, (UPS, Federal Express, etc.).  They discourage the use of U.S. Mail, including Express Mail, because all postal deliveries are radiated to protect against anthrax, and the radiation turns paper into crispy crumbles.  For some reason, UPS and FedEx delivery people just stroll through the door and drop their packages on the table right in NTIA’s offices.  Online filing through is permitted but apparently has some glitches which indicate that perhaps other methods will be more reliable.