WNMU-TV Receives Digital Conversion Grant

WNMU-TV has received a grant of about $1 million from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to complete the television station’s transition to digital television. The funding will allow the station to purchase and install a new transmitter, transmission line and other equipment, and complete necessary tower upgrades. Federal law requires that all television stations end analog broadcasts and convert to a digital signal by February 2009.  


“Without this grant, we’d be shut down for not adhering to a project that’s been federally mandated and is beyond our control,” said Eric Smith (Broadcast and AV Services). “But it doesn’t relieve us of the responsibility to maintain annual operations and programming. Viewer contributions are a critical component and we continue to rely on them to keep the operations solid.”


The funding was announced by Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee). He serves on the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee and its subcommittee on telecommunications, which has jurisdiction over telecommunications and broadcasting policy issues.


“Digital television is the next generation of television broadcasting and, particularly for public television stations, it allows innovative new services for television viewers,” Stupak added.  “WNMU’s transition to digital television will bring new services, including emergency broadcasts, to WNMU’s viewers, my constituents.”


Smith said other innovative services – of an educational nature – will be made possible through a technology called multicasting, which splits the signal into multiple content streams.


“For instance, through digital broadcasting, we may be able to provide our traditional PBS programming in high definition on our core channel, while simultaneously transmitting K-12 instructional programs, college courses and other educational programming on second and third multicast channels,” he said. “Switching a television station over to the digital format is an enormously expensive undertaking and can be especially challenging for PBS stations, which do not have the same financial resources as commercial television stations. Congressman Stupak has always been a champion of public broadcasters and of WNMU.  Without his help during these lean times, WNMU simply would not be here.”


Last year, Stupak announced a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assist WNMU-TV with its conversion to digital television. 


This story was adapted from a news release prepared by Congressman Bart Stupak’s office.


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