(NTIA Proposes Formal End to Public Telecom Facilities Program)

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposes to repeal all of its regulations establishing and governing the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP).  The PTFP was a competitive grant program that helped public broadcasting entities, state and local governments, Native American Tribes, and nonprofit organizations to construct public television and radio stations.  However, as of Fiscal Year 2011, Congress stopped appropriating funds for PTFP.  As a result of the lack of funding, NTIA began to shut down the PTFP.  NTIA has not processed applications or awarded any grants under the PTFP since funding ceased, although it continued to monitor PTFP grants it awarded before Fiscal Year 2011.

NTIA is now proposing to repeal its regulations governing the PTFP because the regulations are considered obsolete.  NTIA fears that the continued existence of these regulations may suggest that the program is still active and may cause confusion regarding PTFP’s status.

When it was fully funded, PTFP successfully assisted many public broadcasting stations as they acquired necessary equipment for continued operations.  While it has been essentially shuttered since it was defunded, this NPRM will permanently end the program.  If a similar program is ever re-established, new regulations would have to be formally adopted for its implementation and operations.

Comments in response to the NPRM are due by 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on August 17, 2017.  If you would like more information or would like to comment on the NPRM, please contact Bob Winteringham at (703) 812-0417 or winteringham@fhhlaw.com.