TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie announced today that New Jersey’s public television network, NJN, would be turned over to a new subsidiary of WNET effective July 1. The new channel will be called NJTV and will be run by a non-profit entity called New Jersey Public Media.
“I want to thank every one of the organizations that put forth proposals during this competitive process for their interest and support in ensuring a sound future for public broadcasting in our state,” said Christie.
“In the end, WNET presented the strongest, most complete plan that met my priorities for this process, most importantly the ability to deliver Jersey-centric programming, including a nightly news program, for the citizens of the Garden State and without the burden of taxpayer subsidy. With the myriad resources and extraordinary track record of WNET, New Jerseyans can be confident that public broadcasting in New Jersey will not only continue, but also has a bright and dynamic future with a strong operational plan to enhance New Jersey programming.”
“I want to applaud Governor Christie and his administration for their diligence and hard work in facilitating this agreement and making the continuance of public broadcasting in New Jersey a priority,” said Neal Shapiro, President of THIRTEEN/WNET. “From the beginning, it was clear to us that the WNET family had the resources, programming and capacity to make it a natural fit for operating in New Jersey. I am confident that our plans not only position us to take on the challenges and opportunities before us, but will allow us to build on the successes and rich public broadcasting tradition in New Jersey.”
WNET is partnering with the Caucus Educational Corporation and veteran producer/broadcaster Steve Adubato Jr. to produce New Jersey focused public affairs programming for the new channel. A new, re-envisioned week-nightly news program called NJ TODAY will be launched on NJTV in the 6 and 11 p.m. timeslots beginning in September. Prior to that launch and beginning on July 1, in the time slots reserved for the news program, NJTV will first air a NJ TODAY preview program – a daily update of the New Jersey news of the day along with in-depth interviews and reports on current issues and events.
In addition, all of New Jersey Network’s radio licenses will be acquired outright. WHYY is acquiring five licenses: WNJM FM 89.9 Manahawkin, WNJN FM 89.7 Atlantic City, WNJZ FM 90.3 Cape May Court House, WNJB FM 89.3 Bridgeton and WNJS FM 88.1 Berlin. The other licenses are being acquired by New York Public Radio, which operates WNYC and WQXR. New York Public Radio is acquiring four licenses: WNJY FM 89.3 Netcong, WNJP FM 88.5 Sussex , WNJT FM 88.1 Trenton and WNJO FM 90.3 Toms River and will create a new public radio station with a New Jersey news bureau to produce and broadcast New Jersey focused public radio programming.
Also as part of the agreement, a redeveloped website and new media online presence will be created, along with the adaptation of the existing online education initiative VITAL to New Jersey for the public’s use. VITAL is a free, online library of more than 5,000 learning assets including video and audio clips, interactive, lesson plans and worksheets.
New Jersey’s Sierra Club criticized the move. “NJN is as much a part of New Jersey as Island Beach State Park, Rutgers University, or the Princeton Battlefield,” said Jeff Tittel, director of New Jersey Sierra Club. “Currently, NJN’s state subsidy is only $11 million. We can spend $180 million to bail out the Xanadu mall but we can’t spend a fraction of that to help one of New Jersey’s great assets? NJN is the New Jersey Network not the No Jersey Network, without it New Jersey will never be the same.”
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