N.J. lawmakers question TV station move

    Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to transfer state-owned New Jersey Network television to public broadcasting station WNET will go to the state Legislature Monday. Lawmakers then have 14 days to decide whether to reject it.

    During a hearing Thursday on the plan, Democrats on the Assembly Budget C said they are concerned about news coverage if WNET takes over NJN’s operations. In response to questioning by Assemblywoman Joan Quigley, state Treasurer Andrew Eristoff said there’s no money in the budget for NJN. He said he isn’t sure what would happen if the Legislature votes against the transfer plan.

    “I can make absolutely no commitment as to what would happen. Further I would have to say that the layoff notices stand, and it will be placed into effect on July 1,” he said.

    “So there is no plan B?” Quigley pressed.

    “There is no plan B,” he said

    Republican Assemblyman Gary Chusano said the cost to taxpayers of operating the television station must be considered in determine whether to approve the transfer.

    “If we are able to provide better coverage to more people throughout the state and save $11 million, I don’t know why we have such strong objections.”

    WNET President Neal Shapiro says the nightly newscast on the new NJTV would start with a headline summary, followed by in-depth interviews.

    Quigley said NJN viewers want to see a newscast with reporters going to events to cover stories.

    “They don’t want someone sitting reading off the AP newswire and then you get 20 minutes worth of someone’s opinion or even two or three people’s opinion of what happened. They want the news.”

    This disclosure: WHYY is purchasing five South Jersey NJN radio transmitters from the state of New Jersey.

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