June 6, 2011; Source: CourierPostOnline.com | Say goodbye to New Jersey Network. Say hello to NJTV. Under a proposal announced earlier this week by Gov. Chris Christie, the state-run television station that has produced public affairs programming for New Jersey residents for 43 years will be replaced by a separate nonprofit.
According to the Courier-Post, the new entity, New Jersey Public Media, will be created by WNET, the New York-based public broadcasting network, which will partner with the Caucus Educational Corp., to produce New Jersey-focused public affairs programming for the new channel. Christie said he was making this move because he did not believe the state should be in the television business and tax dollars should not be used to pay for what's aired. “No one elected me to be programmer in chief,” Christie said.
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Up until now New Jersey Network staff have been state employees, and once the handover is made the new station operator will decide who stays and who goes. Neil Shapiro, WNET's president and CEO, said he expects millions will have to be raised to support the new nonprofit and channel. To quell fears that New Jersey's loss is New York's gain, Shapiro said, “The money we raise in New Jersey will stay in New Jersey.”
Current plans are for a minimum of 20 hours of New Jersey programming per week. The deal is subject to final approval by the New Jersey legislature, including some members who already are voicing opposition. Stay tuned for more on this developing story.—Bruce Trachtenberg