"STUPAK ANNOUNCES $633,231 GRANT FOR NMU TRANSITION TO DIGITAL TELEVISION"

The following press release was provided by Congressman Bart Stupak’s office.

REP. BART STUPAK

Michigan’s 1st For Immediate Release

Contact: Nick Choate

August 20, 2008

(202) 225-4735; (202) 374-4779

STUPAK ANNOUNCES $633,231 GRANT FOR NMU TRANSITION TO DIGITAL TELEVISION WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak announced today that a $633,231 federal digital television grant has been awarded to Northern Michigan University (NMU) by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program.  The Public Television Digital Transition Grant will provide the funding necessary to replace obsolete analog studio production equipment with digital technology at WNMU-TV, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) affiliate owned and operated by NMU.  WNMU serves the central Upper Peninsula and part of northeastern Wisconsin.

“WNMU-TV provides excellent educational, PBS programming,” Stupak said.  “This grant will allow the station to complete its transition to a digital format and roll out innovative new services.”

WNMU is one of 19 stations nationwide to receive funding through USDA’s competitive grant program to assist rural communities with the transition to digital television.  In 2006, Stupak announced a $1 million USDA grant coupled with a $318,790 Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP) grant to assist WNMU-TV with the first phase of its conversion to a digital television.  In 2007, Stupak announced an additional $1,004,083 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for the transition.  In total, Stupak has assisted WNMU in securing more than $2.9 million in federal grants for the transition.

“Local productions are an essential component of the station’s daily broadcasts and provide area residents with educational and cultural programs that enhance life in Upper Michigan,” said Eric Smith, Director of Broadcasting for WNMU-TV.  “This is a major upgrade for our station and will provide viewers with greater clarity in pictures and sound.”

By law, all full-power television stations in the country will stop broadcasting in analog and switch to digital broadcasting at midnight on Feb. 17, 2009.  This latest grant will allow WNMU to convert studio production control facilities from analog to digital and purchase high-definition (HD) digital remote production equipment.  This will help the station meet digital standards and maintain its ability to produce local content once the transition to digital takes effect.

“It’s one thing to have the technical capability to broadcast a national signal in digital,” Stupak said.  “But the ability to create local content in HD digital is another thing altogether.  This grant will preserve WNMU’s ability to bring local content – including news and emergency broadcasts – to viewers in the Upper Peninsula.”

“Congressman Stupak has a solid understanding of the special needs rural communities face and his support throughout this mandated and costly digital TV transition has been unwavering,” Smith said.  “His strong support, along with help of many others, will make the partnership between WNMU-TV and its viewers sustainable well into the future.”

Stupak serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and its Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, which has jurisdiction over telecommunications and broadcasting policy.

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