Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. and John Burzichelli on Wednesday called for the overhaul of NJTV in light of the public broadcasting station’s latest failure to provide New Jersey residents with important coverage of state news.
“While the legislature was reorganizing and paying tribute to the untimely death of Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce, NJTV was, again, asleep behind the wheel,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Given the gravity of the situation, NJTV has become the ultimate ‘Jersey Joke.’ “
“If it wasn’t so aggravating at this point, and yesterday’s occasion weren’t so solemn, the situation might actually be funny,” said Burzichelli (D-Salem/Cumberland/Gloucester). “It’s come to the point where strike one, strike two, strike three – it’s time for NJTV to be out of here.”
The lawmakers noted the station’s many failures in its brief history, including failing to provide coverage of Hurricane Irene, airing the cartoon “Angelina Ballerina” while nearly every regional and national media outlet covered the announcement of the Governor’s presidential plans and now airing the cartoon “Thomas the Train” for the majority of the legislature’s reorganization and tribute to the passing of one of its elder statesmen.
Diegnan and Burzichelli were among the lead sponsors of legislation that attempted to save the station’s former incarnation – NJN – and prevent the Governor from selling the state’s public broadcasting rights to New York-based WNET. The station’s new managers have continually promised increased coverage of New Jersey news, yet have failed to deliver according to the lawmakers.
“It’s time for the Governor’s counsel to start the process of negating the current contract with WNET and bring NJTV back home and into the hands of an entity that will deliver the news that’s important to New Jersey,” added Diegnan. “My first suggestion would be to put Michael Aron, the ‘Dean of the Statehouse Press Corp’ in charge of the station in a greater capacity. Nobody knows New Jersey news better than Michael. We should also put this sorry little chapter behind us by returning to the name NJN.”
“Since the station has repeatedly failed to provide coverage important to New Jersey, the Governor’s Office should begin exploring termination of the current contract,” said Burzichelli. “We should also revisit the idea of having a Jersey-centric entity like Montclair State University run the station. Montclair’s broadcasting operations are state-of-the-art and would provide home-grown students with great hands-on experience – a win for everybody.”