TRENTON — Governor Chris Christie today announced the selection of WNET as the new independent broadcast entity that will be the successor to state run New Jersey Network effective July 1, 2011. The new channel will be called NJTV.

The final agreement fulfills the goals outlined by Governor Christie last year of transitioning NJN to independence and sustainability, ending both the taxpayer subsidy of and state’s role in public television broadcasting, while preserving a New Jersey-centric coverage and programming mission. New Jersey Public Media is the new non-profit entity being established by WNET to operate the station.

“I want to thank every one of the organizations that put forth proposals during this competitive process for their interest and support in ensuring a sound future for public broadcasting in our state,” said Governor Christie. “In the end, WNET presented the strongest, most complete plan that met my priorities for this process, most importantly the ability to deliver Jersey-centric programming, including a nightly news program, for the citizens of the Garden State and without the burden of taxpayer subsidy.

With the myriad resources and extraordinary track record of WNET, New Jerseyans can be confident that public broadcasting in New Jersey will not only continue, but also has a bright and dynamic future with a strong operational plan to enhance New Jersey programming.”

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The WNET partnership will include:

  • –A stronger overall programming schedule that draws upon the full range of WNET/PBS offerings;
  • –Increased and enhanced overall New Jersey centric programming, including arts, culture, and public affairs;
  • –Maintaining high quality public affairs programming, including a nightly news broadcast, live broadcasts of significant State House events such as State of the State and Budget Message, live Election Night coverage as part of comprehensive election coverage as well as a Sunday morning New Jersey public affairs programs.

“I want to applaud Governor Christie and his administration for their diligence and hard work in facilitating this agreement and making the continuance of public broadcasting in New Jersey a priority,” said Neal Shapiro, President of THIRTEEN/WNET. “From the beginning, it was clear to us that the WNET family had the resources, programming and capacity to make it a natural fit for operating in New Jersey. I am confident that our plans not only position us to take on the challenges and opportunities before us, but will allow us to build on the successes and rich public broadcasting tradition in New Jersey.”

WNET is partnering with the Caucus Educational Corporation and veteran producer/broadcaster Steve Adubato Jr. to produce New Jersey focused public affairs programming for the new channel. A new, re-envisioned week-nightly news program called NJ TODAY will be launched on NJTV in the 6 and 11 pm timeslots beginning in September 2011. Prior to that launch and beginning on July 1, 2011 in the time slots reserved for the news program, NJTV will first air an NJ TODAY preview program — a daily update of the New Jersey news of the day along with in-depth interviews and reports on current issues and events.

In addition, all of New Jersey Network’s radio licenses will be acquired outright. WHYY is acquiring five licenses: WNJM FM 89.9 Manahawkin, WNJN FM 89.7 Atlantic City, WNJZ FM 90.3 Cape May Court House, WNJB FM 89.3 Bridgeton and WNJS FM 88.1 Berlin.

The other licenses are being acquired by New York Public Radio, which operates WNYC and WQXR. New York Public Radio is acquiring four licenses: WNJY FM 89.3 Netcong, WNJP FM 88.5 Sussex , WNJT FM 88.1 Trenton and WNJO FM 90.3 Toms River and will create a new public radio station with a New Jersey news bureau to produce and broadcast New Jersey focused public radio programming.

Also as part of the agreement, a redeveloped website and new media online presence will be created, along with the adaptation of the existing online education initiative VITAL to New Jersey for the public’s use. VITAL is a free, online library of more than 5,000 learning assets including video and audio clips, interactive, lesson plans and worksheets.

Today’s announcement fulfills the Administration’s goal to have New Jersey Network stand as an independent broadcast entity that continues to serve a New Jersey-centric programming mission, without taxpayer subsidy. In September 2010, Governor Christie submitted a proposal to the legislature to convert New Jersey Network from a government body to an independent entity, either to a non-profit corporation or through an agreement with an existing public broadcasting entity.

In December 2010, the Governor signed S -2406, the New Jersey Public Broadcasting System Transfer Act, to carry out that transition process. The Act gives the State Treasurer the authority to negotiate a contract to transfer all or any part of the assets of the authority, including, but not limited to the radio operating licenses, but not including the television operating licenses, to the selected nonprofit corporation or other entity. click here

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