Arkansas PBS is now broadcasting on an additional signal near Russellville. It’s the first of five new transmitters being added this year to provide broadcast coverage to nearly the entire state.
The public television network said Thursday the new transmitter at Lee Mountain is operating at full power, with the signal capable of being picked up in Pope, Johnson, Logan and Yell counties.
$6.4 million from federal CARES Act funding awarded to the state and allocated by a state steering committee made the expansion possible. Courtney Pledger, executive director and CEO of Arkansas PBS, said in a press release that the funding "enables us to be a truly statewide network and better serve the many Arkansans who live in areas without broadband coverage, or who cannot afford cable, satellite or broadband – those most in need of our education programming and services."
Schools closing in March 2020 for in-class instruction because of the COVID-19 pandemic established a need for additional transmitters. Arkansas PBS worked with the state Department of Education to produce educational programming to assist in providing remote learning.
The broadcaster, which is part of the state government, says the project will increase coverage from 76% of Arkansas to 99.5%. Additional signals are expected to be on the air by the end of the year near Mena, Harrison, Texarkana and in Forrest City.