NJ Public Television: Are we destined to reside in the shadows of NYC and Philadelphia?


 In summary from an article published in the Star Ledger:


njnlogo.jpegNew Jersey is in danger of losing its public television station.  New Jersey Network (NJN, Channel 8 on Cablevision in Metuchen) is facing what seem to be insurmountable financial and staffing deficiencies. Funds have been low for years and now added to the burden is upgrades needed for the switch to digital. Since 2000, the network has spent more than $15 million on the conversion ($8.6 million in state funds and $4.5 million in federal grants), but has more equipment to get.  An additional $23 million is needed.

Earlier this year, NJN officials proposed an out-of-the-box plan to transfer the state-owned broadcasting licenses to the nonprofit Foundation for New Jersey Public Broadcasting. Nervous state employees convinced lawmakers to oppose the plan.  Other state-owned stations, also facing uncertain financial futures, are adopting the nonprofit model proposed by NJN.  Hawaii, Oregon and Maine are among those that have made the change.  


Consider the following:


§                 Michael Aron, the award-winning senior political correspondent, is pulling double-duty as acting director of news and public affairs.


§                 State officials have imposed hiring freezes and personnel cuts, reducing the network's staff to 136 next year -- down from 158 three years ago and 220 in 1990.


§                 Some of the network's equipment is so old that techs troll eBay for replacement parts.


§                 State purchasing rules are so cumbersome it took NJN more than a year to buy a copier for its Newark studio. NJN needs some 1,000 items to maximize the potential of the federally mandated digital conversion on Feb. 17.


§                 New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority chairman Scott Kobler stepped down in August


§                 Executive director Elizabeth Christopherson announced her resignation, effective Dec. 1.


§                 Foundation vice president David Miller and Nightly News anchor Kent Manahan will leave before the end of the year.


§                 Kobler remains on the board, and Christopherson said she will announce her next job within weeks.


§                 Manahan is among seven NJN employees to take the state's early retirement offer.



Although the original plan has been dropped, NJN will probably try again. Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) presided over the April hearing and said. "I don't know if it had a lot of merit, but I'm not aware of any follow-up meetings where they sat down and said, 'These are the benefits, the pros and the cons.' it just kind of petered out."


Citing the ongoing state budget crisis, Sarlo said he was interested in ways to cut state subsidies. "I'm very open to listening to another proposal," Resigning executive director Christopherson will help with the effort. "There are other models in the (PBS) system, and I have pledged to help with all my contacts."


NJN officials are seeking private donations. Last year private contributions topped $9 million. Without fundraising powerhouse Christopherson, it will be a difficult number to repeat. "She was a great fundraiser and cheerleader for NJN," said Cephas Bowles, general manager of WBGO-Jazz 88, a public radio station based in Newark. "She took a network that was under-resourced and was not generating the revenue that it could, and the on-air fundraising got better, underwriting improved."


For the complete article:  NJ Star Ledger, 11/09/08

Contact RepresentativesBarbara Buono , Peter J. Barnes III, or Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr

with your concerns


It would be a horrible loss for the NJ community not to have a representative public television presence. What can viewers do to help?

I dont think we should let that happen

Re: your headline: we already do

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