Montclair State president defends university’s proposal for NJN that lost out to WNET

TRENTON – The president of Montclair State University told the Senate Budget Committee today that her university’s proposal to take over NJN TV offered viewers state-of-the-art facilities already located in-state, access to the faculty and well-trained student interns,  and eventually expanded New Jersey-centric programming in areas such as pre-kindergarten to grade 12 education, health, and arts and culture.

Susan Cole told the committee that the university is more than qualified to do the job the state wants to give to WNET.

Montclair State and WNET were the two finalists in the bidding process.

In response to state concerns over fundraising, she said their proposal to raise about $4.9 million per year was realistic and derived after meeting with consultants.

She acknowledged they were contemplating using the $2.2 million in Corporation for Public Broadcasting revenue, $2.9 million in tower lease revenue, but not $2 million in state funds to maintain the tower. “We were not aware that was available,’’ she said.

Earlier, Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff also had said that same revenue would go to the WNET entity, Public Media NJ, that will take over NJN operations.

The Treasurer’s Office said in terms of dollars and cents, the two proposals they were looking at had the ability to access the same revenue stream, and were equal financially, but Sidamon-Eristoff said WNET’s experience and ability to meet this kind of large-scale, day-to-day programming commitment helped give it the edge.

But Cole maintained they were not aware of that $2 million in tower maintenance funding, and said the university, among other things, has continued to grow year after year in the face of dwindling state support and has never sought a “bailout.”  She said the university also would have taken over some of the NJN equipment that was up to date, such as HDTV field cameras and other equipment. Montclair State president defends university’s proposal for NJN that lost out to WNET