TRENTON – The chair of the bi-partisan Legislative Task Force On Public Broadcasting today released the report on the future of NJN, laying out a series of findings that will allow the network to evolve and emerge a strong, vibrant and diverse public media outlet that will continue to serve the informational needs of the residents of New Jersey.
The report is the culmination of a comprehensive review of public broadcasting in New Jersey, in which the panel gathered information from a wide array of stakeholders, media experts and members of the public during three public hearings in Trenton, Pomona and Montclair.
“Considering the state’s enormous financial challenges, the Task Force has determined that New Jersey is no longer in a position to operate a public media outlet,” said Senator Nia H. Gill (D-Essex), chair of the legislative task force. “It is with this in mind that we have developed findings to allow NJN to become independent. I am confident that through deliberative, but intensive, work by the Legislature and the Administration, we can overcome the challenges we are faced, and ensure that New Jersey has continued access to New Jersey-centric programming.”
“New Jersey has a strong and unique history. This task force report recognizes that it is vital to maintain a strong New Jersey presence for news, arts, and politics. As taxpayers have supported NJN over the years with public money, the conversation now centers on the most cost-efficient delivery of those services,” said Senator Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth). “The task force recognizes, and rightly so, that the state should no longer operate a public media outlet. I look forward to working with the Governor and my colleagues in the Legislature to affect this fundamental reform and ensure a vibrant New Jersey-centered media outlet.”
Since existing state laws do not authorize any governmental body to do so, the task force recommended creating an entity with the power to inventory the Authority’s assets, negotiate with Federal entities, and receive, negotiate and approve any proposal to transfer the state’s television and radio licenses.
The task force concluded that the newly-organized body would determine what entity, or entities, is best equipped to take over New Jersey’s main source of media. In doing so, however, the task force recommended that it follow certain principles, and consider which entity is best able to provide New Jersey-centric programming, operate statewide, avail itself of new technology and provide independent, civic journalism.
The panel was created following a provision in the FY 2011 budget that drastically reduced state funding to the New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority, the operator of NJN.
Members of the task force who endorsed the report findings include: Senators Nia H. Gill (D-Essex), Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May), Sean T. Kean (R-Monmouth) Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth), and Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce (R-Morris), and Assemblyman John Amodeo (R-Atlantic).