Eye On Boise

JFAC rejects public TV matching money

Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Post Falls, left, led a move to reject $150,000 in matching funds for Idaho Public Television to qualify for $450,000 in federal grants to preserve TV reception to six Idaho communities that otherwise will lose over-the-air signals in the digital changeover. Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, right, was among those supporting the funding, but it failed on a 13-7 vote Monday. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)
Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Post Falls, left, led a move to reject $150,000 in matching funds for Idaho Public Television to qualify for $450,000 in federal grants to preserve TV reception to six Idaho communities that otherwise will lose over-the-air signals in the digital changeover. Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, right, was among those supporting the funding, but it failed on a 13-7 vote Monday. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, led a move in JFAC this morning to fund $150,000 for matching money for two federal grants for Idaho Public Television to take advantage of a one-time federal opportunity to get licenses for new translators to fill the gaps in the new digital signal transmission that now threaten to leave six Idaho communities without over-the-air TV signals. The move failed, however, on a 13-7 vote. Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Post Falls, led the opposition. "I am a fan of public television, and it is difficult for me to make this motion, but we have made a lot of difficult decisions in the last few days," Hammond said. "We need to be very careful with every dollar that we've got."

Peter Morrill, IPTV general manager, told the joint committee that without the state matching funds, IPTV couldn't accept the $450,000 in federal grants that it applied for in January, on which word is likely to come within six months. "We will be obligated to return the licenses to the FCC," he said. "We will not be able to provide that service, as I understand it." Hammond responded that he lives in a rural area and recognizes he gives up some services because of that. "Does government always have to provide those?" he asked. "We make a decision to live in a certain area, and sometimes we live with less because of that." The six communities that stand to lose TV reception are Idaho City, Emmett, Glenns Ferry, the Portneuf Valley, the Boise Front/Harris Ranch area, and the southern Wood River Valley.




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