Tag Archive: WNET

NJ Media Is Dead. Long Live NJ Media.

The demise of NJN has been a major bum-out, especially for political junkies; many of have come to see the station’s Jersey-centric coverage as more than essential for the little state caught between two huge media markets, but lacking a cohesive TV landscape of it’s own. To be sure, mainstays like Michael Aron’s On The Record and Reporters Roundtable will be sorely missed, as they have come to serve important functions for NJ’s political watchers and doers.

But let’s take a deep breath – because as a medium, television is both hurting and evolving; when it comes to news, even more so. What once used to be a time-sensitive ritual of getting in front of the TV set in time to watch one’s favorite show has ceded ground to the Internet, smartphones, time-shifted viewing and more. And while TV broadcasters used to be unique in their ability to create and spread content far and wide, that’s just not the case any more.

So in the spirit of making crisis into opportunity, let’s hope that the many talented, dedicated, insightful and resourceful folks who served this state so well for so long are able to find a path forward that keeps their important work alive while adapting to changes in the media landscape. Let’s see podcasts, and streaming feeds and social networking and stuff no one has yet invented. It’s not just an opportunity to pick up the pieces and try to find a way to move on – it’s a chance to flex with the times, grow and ultimately become better. Sure, there will always be those media consumers who are married to their TVs, but their ranks are dwindling and will ultimately disappear. So no, it’s never going to be the same as it was. But change – no matter how much it may suck at the time – can be good. And when it comes to media for New Jersey, by New Jersey, perhaps the best is yet to come. (And who knows? Maybe 20 people can do the work of 200 like the governor says. Also, maybe the sun will turn purple and put on sunglasses.)

Alternate, less saccharine ending: Governor Christie and those like him (Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, etc.) would like nothing more than to silence any outlet that might threaten their agenda of privatization and greater corporate control of American society. That includes New Jersey. Then consider the analog newspapers, and the increasingly choppy waters they must negotiate. It becomes simple, and something we all already know, because we’re living it: the traditional media landscape which defined the past has changed, and will continue to change, dramatically. And whoever is most flexible and adaptive to these changes will likely retain an indomitable edge when it comes to reaching people, and trying to convince them that your ideas are better than the other guy’s.

Better stay sharp.  

We lose NJN in an increasingly fishy-looking deal

While we were running a frontpage post entitled, Cheer Up. Things Could Be Worse, things got worse.

Last week, the Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution blocking the handover of NJN to WNET. Tonight, the Senate resolution, sponsored by Loretta Weinberg, failed by one vote. NJN is dead. The new network run by NYC’s WNET, called NJTV, goes up Friday.

Chris Christie and North Jersey political boss “Big Steve” Adubato tag-teamed to lean on senators to vote No. Adubato’s family makes out great in this deal payback. Where will WNET get most of its public affairs programs about NJ? From Caucus Educational Corp.. That’s “Big Steve’s” broadcaster son. David Koch, who with bro Charles is the money muscle behind Americans for Prosperity and the Tea Party, is on WNET’s board. Will political coverage remain fair?

Cunningham, Ruiz, Stack, Gill … WTF?

Nobody who watched last Thursday’s intense Senate Budget questioning of Christie dealmaker Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff could come away without questioning if there was something fishy in Christie’s deal. Why did the Christie administration reject what looked like a viable alternative that would have kept control in Jersey? Montclair State. University President Susan Cole testified their plan would do better for less. Compelling enough, that there should have been more time devoted to finding out if that was true.

And just to put the cherry on top, your tax dollars will be subsidizing the deal, to a tune of $4 million. This is not the best we could do.  

NJ Losing Its Voice — The Giveaway of NJN — A Great Deal for WNET at No Cost or Risk to WNET!

We’re hearing that Loretta Weinberg’s proposal to block the NJN handover to WNET is one vote short after a weekend of heavy lobbying by tag-team Christie and Adubato with the Senate soon to go into session. That session, posted for 4pm, is still listed as Pending. Want to call your Senator? You can start here. – promoted by Rosi

Discussion of Governor Christie’s proposal to give New York’s WNET control of NJN television has correctly focused on the deal’s impact on broadcast coverage of New Jersey news, public affairs, culture and history.    But the agreement for WNET to operate NJN television also brings great benefits for WNET to the detriment of New Jersey taxpayers. Even though the State of New Jersey will retain ownership of NJN’s television broadcast licenses, WNET’s operating agreement with New Jersey gives WNET access to millions of new potential members and  donors plus use of  NJN’s donor lists.  In return WNET pays absolutely nothing and isn’t required to continue current programming or hire NJN staff.

Control of NJN Moves to NYC

As part of the takeover of NJN, WNET has created a New Jersey non-profit corporation called Public Media New Jersey (PMNJ) a majority of whose governing board must be residents of the State of New Jersey.  However, PMNJ is structured as a direct subsidiary of WLIW, the former Long Island station that was taken over by WNET in 2003;  that is, WLIW is the sole member of PMNJ.   WLIW is itself a direct subsidiary of WNET.  So the supposed New Jersey non-profit, PMNJ, is actually controlled by a Long Island corporation which in turn is controlled by a NYC corporation (WNET.)    The fact that the a majority of PMNJ’s governing board must be New Jersey residents will have little practical impact.

Christie & Adubato leaning hard on Senators to reject NJN veto resolution

We are hearing from multiple sources that Gov. Chris Chris Christie and North Jersey Democratic political boss Steve Adubato were making calls all day yesterday to pressure Senators to vote against the NJN veto resolution. Is that OK with you?

Concurrent Resolutions to stop the deal – Early this week Sen. Loretta Weinberg and Asm. Patrick Diegnan introduced concurrent resolutions in each of their houses disapproving the handover contract negotiated by NJ Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff. The Assembly voted Thursday night 45-30 on the Diegnan resolution to block the NJN handover.

Hot seat – On the same day, Sidamon-Eristoff was on the hot seat for more than 2 hours in the Senate Budget Committee. And it was clear from the Senators’ persistent questions – and his often minimal answers –  that they weren’t getting anywhere with him.

Senate – Loretta Weinberg is the sponsor of the Senate resolution, which is expected to come up for a vote Monday.

Payback? Tracking what appears to be a flawed, and maybe suspicious, bidding and selection process in the Christie plan, leads to questions concerning what Adubato’s son, Steve Adubato, Jr., would potentially gain from the deal. And if it’s political payback going on, there’s plenty to be concerned about.

Call. Email – Want to tell your senator what’s on your mind? Here’s your contact list.  

Follow It Now: the NJN Handover Hearing at Senate Budget

Reporter Michael Aron is there, looking glum. An NJN TV crew set up cameras to document their own future. There’s some irony in all that. Because at this time, the NJ Senate Budget Committee is hearing testimony on the proposed sale of New Jersey Network to New York City’s WNET.

As I’m writing this, NJ Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff is testifying, saying this decision was made to save NJ scads and scads of money.

Want to follow along? You can:

  • Watch it at NJN right now

  • Listen to the audio feed

  • Join our live Tweet here: @bluejersey with hashtag #NJN
  • NJ Losing Its Voice — The Giveaway of NJN — Is the “Done” Deal Coming Undone?

    While you’re brushing up on the NJN/WNET realities, this is also worth reading, from Star-Ledger: N.J. could still pay millions annually to support NJN, despite takeover by WNET. – promoted by Rosi

       The deal to let WNET of New York operate and determine the broadcast coverage of New Jersey on New Jersey’s own station, NJN, is a classic political arrangement.  It features the son of Newark’s major political boss and close friend of Chris Christie, Steve Adubato, Jr, who just so happens to be closely tied to WNET.

       But now the Governor carefully crafted “done” deal is showing signs of unraveling.


    Countdown for NJN to Fade to Black

    Every day the Governor’s office sends out an email to count down the remaining days for the legislature to complete the all-mighty “Tool Kit.” It’s the same countdown to December 31 for NJN, which on that day is scheduled to fade to black. Staff have already received notice. Legislators have offered to provide temporary extension funding, but the Governor says he would only agree if there were a workable plan which includes removing staff from the state payroll. It appears that NJN as we know it, love it and sometimes dislike it is coming to an end.

    The Star Ledger reported today a meeting in Newark, including Christie point-person State Treasurer Andrew Eristoff, foundation leaders, out-of-state broadcasters, and others where there was a broad-based discussion, but no definitive solution.  One proposal mentioned Thursday night on NJN included WNET in a possible collaboration with Steve Adubato. Montclair Universty has expressed interest but the governor does not want to transfer staff to another state institution. WNYC is interested in the radio properties.

    It is difficult to believe that with Thanksgiving and then Christmas fast upon us that deals can be finalized by the end of the year, plus, the legislature has to transfer sale authority to the the governor’s office. Given the governor’s impatience and reluctance to provide an extension, NJN may indeed fade to black. We can only hope that like the phoenix it will rise again from its ashes.