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Assemblyman Suggests Revisiting Public Broadcasting Contract to Ensure Adequate Coverage in Future Emergencies

(TRENTON) – Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, Jr. (D-Middlesex) on Wednesday echoed Assemblyman John Burzichelli’s criticism of the lack of hurricane coverage on NJTV this weekend and suggested the state revisit the contract with New Jersey’s new public broadcasting station to ensure adequate coverage for any future emergencies.

“NJTV has failed their first test miserably. While Hurricane Irene was battering our state, NJTV was airing cartoons and cooking shows. They couldn’t even send a reporter to cover any of the Governor’s press briefings.

“This is more than an embarrassment, it’s a disgrace. The people of New Jersey deserve better. Our taxpayers are subsidizing NJTV’s operations and receiving nothing in return. It’s time we revisit the contract between the state and NJTV. Immediate action must be taken to assure that this never happens again.

“We all feared that this arrangement was a joke. Now the joke has turned into a tragedy. In a time of crisis, New Jersey families couldn’t turn to our only statewide public broadcasting station for reliable information. Instead they had to rely on out-of-state stations for any coverage they could find,” said Diegnan.

Diegnan and Burzichelli were two of the lead sponsors of a resolution (ACR-201) that would have voided the contract negotiated between the Christie administration and WNET for the takeover of the state’s public broadcasting station due to concerns over whether the new entity would devote the resources necessary to cover the issues important to New Jerseyans while receiving taxpayer subsidies. The measure passed the Assembly but failed to garner enough votes in the Senate to void the contract.