This year, St. Patrick’s Day was the deadline for pubcasters to ask Uncle Sam for help replacing their ancient, failing transmitters, or for a broadcast starter-set to put a new station on the air. It was also one of those days when Congress lurched toward its budget compromise — and took back the offer. Gone is the 49-year-old Public Telecommunications Facilities Program, a $20-million line item in the Department of Commerce, which had been saved year after year by supporters in Congress. This time they were too busy saving PTFP’s younger and bigger sibling, CPB.
With this law, signed by President Kennedy on May 1, 1962, Congress gave the first major federal aid to public broadcasting. The grants for new and replacement facilities and equipment were overseen by the Office of Education in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The successor Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP) was operated by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in the Department of Commerce until 2011, when budget cutbacks ended PTFP appropriations (Current, April 18, 2001). The act became Part IV of the Public Broadcasting Act:
PART IV — GRANTS FOR EDUCATIONAL TELEVISION BROADCASTING FACILITIES
Declaration of Purpose