Public broadcasting in Alaska took one step closer last week to completing a project that would link 30 television and radio stations across the state through a high-speed data network, allowing them to provide broader statewide news coverage.
Last week the Alaska Public Broadcasting Initiative was awarded a $365,000 grant by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The money will be used to maintain the network.
The network will enable Alaska stations to share television and radio stories, thereby broadening the scope of reporting, said David Geesin, deputy director for Alaska Public Broadcasting, Inc.
He said that once the project is complete, it will allow Juneau's local public radio station KTOO to get stories from more remote areas.
"The Fort Yukon station could get a KTOO feed," he said. He also said the new system will enable radio and television stations to receive live feeds on events such as Gov. Frank Murkowski's Conference of Alaskans, held earlier this year in Fairbanks to discuss the future of the Alaska Permanent Fund.
"For the first time, Alaska's public stations will be able to transfer audio and video files seamlessly from anywhere in the state," Geesin said in a prepared statement. "This represents a tremendous savings in staff time and travel."
Alaska has four public television and 26 public radio stations.
"Public radio in Alaska right now reaches - I think it's in excess of 90 percent of the Alaska population," Geesin said.
Bill Legere, general manager for KTOO-FM and TV, said it will establish a more unified public broadcasting system.
Legere said he expects that the network will be completely installed by the end of the year, with everything being completely functional by spring 2005.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is the largest provider of funds to public radio and television projects in the country. It funds more than 1,000 public radio and television stations.