An applicant may file an application with the Agency for a planning or construction grant. To achieve the objectives set forth at 47 U.S.C. 393(b), the Agency has developed the following categories. Each application shall be identified as a broadcast or nonbroadcast project and must fall within at least one of the following categories:
(a) Special applications. NTIA possesses the discretionary authority to recommend awarding grants to eligible nonbroadcast applicants whose proposals are unique or innovative and which address demonstrated and substantial community needs (e.g., service to the blind or deaf and nonbroadcast projects offering educational or instructional services).
(b) Broadcast applications. The Broadcast Priorities are set forth in order of priority for funding.
(1) Priority 1—Provision of Public Telecommunications Facilities for First Radio and Television Signals to a Geographic Area. Within this category, NTIA establishes three subcategories:
(i) Priority 1A—Projects that include local origination capacity. This subcategory includes the planning or construction of new facilities that can provide a full range of radio and/or television programs, including material that is locally produced. Eligible projects include new radio or television broadcast stations, new cable systems, or first public telecommunications service to existing cable systems, provided that such projects include local origination capacity.
(ii) Priority 1B—Projects that do not include local origination capacity. This subcategory includes projects such as increases in tower height and/or power of existing stations and construction of translators, cable networks, and repeater transmitters that will result in providing public telecommunications services to previously unserved areas.
(iii) Priority 1C—Projects that provide first nationally distributed programming. This subcategory includes projects that provide satellite downlink facilities to noncommercial radio and television stations that would bring nationally distributed programming to a geographic area for the first time.
(iv) Priority 1 and its subcategories apply only to grant applicants proposing to plan or construct new facilities to bring public telecommunications services to geographic areas that are presently unserved, i.e., areas that do not receive public telecommunications services. (It should be noted that television and radio are considered separately for the purposes of determining coverage. In reviewing applications from FM stations that propose to serve, or that already serve, areas covered by AM-daytime only stations, PTFP will evaluate the amount of service provided via the AM-daytime only station in determining whether the FM proposal qualifies for a Priority 1 or Priority 2, as appropriate.)
(v) An applicant proposing to plan or construct a facility to serve a geographical area that is presently unserved should indicate the number of persons who would receive a first public telecommunications signal as a result of the proposed project.
(2) Priority 2—Replacement of Basic Equipment of Existing Essential Broadcast Stations.(i) Projects eligible for consideration under this category include the urgent replacement of obsolete or worn out equipment at “essential stations” (i.e., existing broadcast stations that provide either the only public telecommunications signal or the only locally originated public telecommunications signal to a geographical area).
(ii) To show that the urgent replacement of equipment is necessary, applicants must provide documentation indicating excessive downtime, or a high incidence of repair (i.e., copies of repair records, or letters documenting non-availability of parts). Additionally, applicants must show that the station is the only public telecommunications station providing a signal to a geographical area or the only station with local origination capacity in a geographical area.
(iii) The distinction between Priority 2 and Priority 4 is that Priority 2 is for the urgent replacement of basic equipment for essential stations. Where an applicant seeks to “improve” basic equipment in its station (i.e., where the equipment is not “worn out”), or where the applicant is not an essential station, NTIA would consider the applicant's project under Priority 4.
(3) Priority 3—Establishment of a First Local Origination Capacity in a Geographical Area.(i) Projects in this category include the planning or construction of facilities to bring the first local origination capacity to an area already receiving public telecommunications services from distant sources through translators, repeaters, or cable systems.
(ii) Applicants seeking funds to bring the first local origination capacity to an area already receiving some public telecommunications services may do so, either by establishing a new (and additional) public telecommunications facility, or by adding local origination capacity to an existing facility. A source of a public telecommunications signal is distant when the geographical area to which the source is brought is beyond the grade B contour of the origination facility.
(4) Priority 4 Improvement of Public Broadcasting Services.(i) Projects eligible for consideration under this category are intended to improve the delivery of public broadcasting services to a geographic area. These projects include the establishment of a public broadcast facility to serve a geographic area already receiving public telecommunications services, projects for the replacement of basic obsolete or worn-out equipment at existing public broadcasting facilities and the upgrading of existing origination or delivery capacity to current industry performance standards (e.g., improvements to signal quality, and significant improvements in equipment flexibility or reliability). As under Priority 2, applicants seeking to replace or improve basic equipment under Priority 4 should show that the replacement of the equipment is necessary by including in their applications data indicating excessive downtime, or a high incidence of repair (such as documented in repair records). Within this category, NTIA establishes two subcategories: Priority 4A and Priority 4B.
(ii) Priority 4A.(A) Applications to replace urgently needed equipment from public broadcasting stations that do not meet the Priority 2 criteria because they do not provide either the only public telecommunications signal or the only locally originated public telecommunications signal to a geographic area. NTIA will also consider applications that improve as well as replace urgently needed production-related equipment at public radio and television stations that do not qualify for Priority 2 consideration but that produce, on a continuing basis, significant amounts of programming distributed nationally to public radio or television stations.
(B) The establishment of public broadcasting facilities to serve a geographic area already receiving public telecommunications services. The applicant must demonstrate that it will address underserved needs in an area which significantly differentiates its service from what is already available in its service area.
(C) The acquisition of satellite downlinks for public radio stations in areas already served by one or more full-service public radio stations. The applicant must demonstrate that it will broadcast a program schedule that does not merely duplicate what is already available in its service area.
(D) The acquisition of the necessary items of equipment to bring the inventory of an already-operating station to the basic level of equipment requirements established by PTFP. This is intended to assist stations that went on the air with a complement of equipment well short of what the Agency considers as the basic complement.
(iii) Priority 4B. The improvement and non-urgent replacement of equipment at any public broadcasting station.
(5) Priority 5 Augmentation of Existing Broadcast Stations. Projects in this category would equip an existing station beyond a basic capacity to broadcast programming from distant sources and to originate local programming.
(i) Priority 5A Projects to equip auxiliary studios at remote locations, or to provide mobile origination facilities. An applicant must demonstrate that significant expansion in public participation in programming will result. This subcategory includes mobile units, neighborhood production studios, or facilities in other locations within a station's service area that would make participation in local programming accessible to additional segments of the population.
(ii) Priority 5B—Projects to augment production capacity beyond basic level in order to provide programming or related materials for other than local distribution. This subcategory would provide equipment for the production of programming for regional or national use. Need beyond existing capacity must be justified.
(6) Other cases. NTIA possesses the discretionary authority to recommend awarding grants to eligible broadcast applicants whose proposals are so unique or innovative that they do not clearly fall within the five Priorities listed in this section. Innovative projects submitted under this category must address demonstrated and sub stantial community needs or must address issues related to the conversion of public broadcasting facilities to advanced digital technologies.
(c) An applicant may request a preliminary determination of whether a proposed project fits within at least one of the above listed categories any time prior to the closing date.
(d) All applications will be reviewed after the closing date. If an application does not fall within one of the listed categories, it may be rejected and returned without further consideration.