Effort to block transfer of New Jersey Network falls short


The New Jersey Assembly sent a message last week – it did not want the state’s WNJN-TV Montclair going under the control of WNET-TV in New York. However, an effort to second the motion in the NJ Senate was not successful.

The Assembly vote was 45-30 in favor of blocking what is essentially an LMA with WNET, giving it responsibility for managing and programming WNJN.  However, in the Senate, the blocking measure needed 21 votes. It got 20.

Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) sponsored the Senate version of the measure. She said, “New Jersey’s taxpayers will be on the hook for millions of dollars annually to support the continued operation.” Noting that the New Jersey tab for operating the station will still be at least $4.7M annually, she added, “So while we hand this network off to a New York operator, we are not saving that much money.”

But WNET President/CEO Neal Shapiro hailed the end of the uncertainty. His organization has promised to devote a consistent amount of program time to New Jersey-oriented material, including reviving daily news program “NJ Today.”

Even if the Senate had ratified the Assembly action, the fate of the station/network would have still been up in the air, since it would have lacked funding. The administration of Gov. Chris Christie had promised that if indeed the deal was blocked, it would continue to lack funding, and only a minimal effort would have been made to keep up with FCC licensee requirements.

The state’s nine O&O non-commercial radio stations are being sold to public organizations based in New York and Philadelphia. There was no effort made to block them as there has been with the television station.