Treasurer defends administration’s handling of NJN/WNET deal

TRENTON – The Senate Budget Committee took testimony but no action today on the governor’s plan to turn NJN over to WNET.

Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff told the committee that the public dialog has not reflected the facts of the matter.

He maintained the state would save $11 million a  year after the deal is completed. 

He said there are no unacceptable risks being taken by the state.

If revenue falls short of expectations, he said the state would have six months to find solutions, and the entire contract could be rebid.

“The current nightly news format is not viable,’’ he said because NJN uses outdated equipment in an inadequate facility. The WNET alternative, he told the committee, would save taxpayers’ dollars.

He said there is no money in the governor’s budget for NJN next fiscal year. 

He rejected criticisms that the bidding process was cloaked in secrecy, and said the state used a standard Request for Proposal process.

He said “leverage in any future negotiations’’ would have been compromised if negotiations had not been confidential.

He also warned the committee that any delay or attempt to re-bid or renegotiate the deal “would be inferior to the proposed agreement now before you.’’

He said they received five proposals for the TV network and three for the radio network.

Treasurer defends administration’s handling of NJN/WNET deal