Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
USDA Funding to Upgrade 4 KET Transmitters to Digital
Project will enable rural areas to access KET’s educational services
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers today announced a nearly $358,000 federal grant to upgrade four Kentucky Educational Television transmitters in southeastern and eastern Kentucky with digital microwave communication systems.
The funding will replace 20 analog microwave communication systems with digital systems to connect the KET Network Center to WKSO in Somerset, WKMR in Morehead, WKHA in Hazard and WKPI in Pikeville. The digital equipment will enhance KET’s ability to serve its viewers in these rural areas of the state with better, more reliable access to KET’s educational programs and services.
“We continue to receive funding and support for education and economic development tools that will help us transform this region of our state,” said Gov. Beshear. “These digital upgrades allow the four stations to strengthen communications within their communities and to increase access to critical educational programming.”
“Upgrading our digital infrastructure is a vital part of our future, and this investment in eastern Kentucky stations will help in ‘Shaping Our Appalachian Region,’” said Congressman Rogers. “Together with the upcoming expansion of high-speed, high-capacity broadband in our region, we can launch into the world market where digital access provides new opportunities for families, business, healthcare and education.”
“Every Kentuckian deserves the best educational media, delivered on an all-digital transmission system,” said Shae Hopkins, executive director and CEO of KET. “We appreciate this important investment from the USDA and are proud to join Congressman Rogers and Governor Beshear in advancing educational opportunity in eastern Kentucky.”
The federal funding is part of the Public Television Digital Transition Grant program through USDA Rural Development. The USDA awarded grants totaling more than $2.5 million to Kentucky, Alaska, Idaho, New Mexico, Puerto Rico and West Virginia.
The Kentucky Authority for Educational Television, KET’s governing board, received the $357,700 grant to upgrade its affiliate stations.
According to the USDA Rural Development, the overall funding will assist “public television stations serving substantially rural communities make the transition to digital broadcasts.”
The Governor joined Congressman Rogers last week to announce an ambitious state and federal investment to extend critically-needed high-speed broadband Internet access to the furthest reaches of the Commonwealth.
The broadband project will be supported by $60 million in state bonds and $40 million in federal and private sources. The project is slated to begin in eastern Kentucky, closely aligning the state’s efforts with the Center for Rural Development and the “S.O.A.R.: Shaping Our Appalachian Region” initiative created by Gov. Beshear, Congressman Rogers and other local and state leaders in that region.
Gov. Beshear and Congressman Rogers organized a SOAR Summit in December to gather ideas and recommendations about how to move Kentucky’s Appalachian region forward. The summit, held in Pikeville on Dec. 9, attracted more than 1,700 Kentuckians. Its report, released recently, is available online at http://www.governor.ky.gov/SOAR and through state libraries.
Since the summit, Gov. Beshear has helped announce the broadband initiative, the recent federal designation of a Promise Zone in eastern Kentucky, the four-laning of the Mountain Parkway, a $2.6 million business loan pool for the region and USDA StrikeForce designation for rural area investments in eastern Kentucky.