LOCAL Television Act:

Status of Spending for Fiscal Year 2005

GAO-06-858R: Published: Jul 7, 2006. Publicly Released: Jul 7, 2006.

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In December 2000, the Congress passed the Launching Our Communities' Access to Local Television Act of 2000 (LOCAL TV Act). The act created the Local Television Loan Guarantee Program and established the LOCAL Television Loan Guarantee Board to finance projects to provide access to signals of local television stations to households in areas with limited or no access to such signals from a commercial, for-profit satellite service or other multichannel video provider. The program authorizes the board to approve loan guarantees up to 80 percent of loans, totaling no more than $1.25 billion in aggregate; however, since inception of the program, no loan guarantees have been approved and the program has not been utilized. Section 1006 of the act requires that we perform an annual audit of the (1) administration of the provisions of the act and (2) financial position of each applicant who receives a loan guarantee under the act, including the nature, amount, and purpose of investments made by the applicant. In April 2005, we issued our required annual report covering fiscal year 2004. Since there continue to be no loan guarantee recipients for GAO to audit, this report primarily addresses whether program administration during fiscal year 2005 satisfied the provisions of the act.

Since fiscal year 2002, we have reported annually on the administration of the LOCAL TV Act as required by Section 1006 of the act. Since inception of the program, no loan guarantees have been approved and there are no current or anticipated budgetary resources available for future loan guarantees. On December 13, 2004, the board authorized closing out one of two existing contracts. The other contract expired on December 31, 2005. Fiscal year 2005 administrative costs totaled about $6,500. Given that the President's Budgets for Fiscal Years 2006 and 2007 both pointed out that the unobligated budget authority for this program had been rescinded and the administration was not proposing additional funds for this program, we reiterate our previous matter for congressional consideration to rescind the balance of the appropriation for administrative expenses. In oral comments on a draft of this report, the board agreed with our report.

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