Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Lou Greenwald said this morning he wants to ensure the mission of NJN continues and that it allows for access to news and government for the residents of New Jersey.
The committee today scrutinized the advisability of the state’s plan to transfer state-owned NJN to WNET as of July 1.
Among other issues: Where WNET will get the millions of dollars necessary to make the deal work, what will become of New Jersey Network’s 124 employees, just how much N.J.-centric programming will remain, and why an entity such as Montclair State University, which demanded no money from the state and was willing to invest $7 million, was passed over in favor of WNET, which is to receive a state subsidy.
The Legislature could veto the deal, but if it takes no action the deal will take effect on July 1.
“News to me is live,’’ Greenwald said, and NJN offers real news, he said. “It’s important to me people get to know who their mayors are,’’ he said as an example of the kind of close access state residents need.
The governor will always have access to the people, he said, but NJN has always been a viable way for people to have access and information about local officials.
Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff sought to assure the committee that after the WNET/NJN deal is completed, the new entity will deliver “serious discussion about serious issues facing New Jersey.”
He said there is a real commitment to providing the kind of programming N.J. residents need.
Assemblyman John Burzichelli also said he has concerns about the deal, and echoed Greenwald’s concerns about the kind of news that will be provided by the not-for-profit Public Media NJ.
The treasurer said that as Public Media NJ builds a fundraising base, it will be able to access a higher level of cultural affairs programming for state residents.