NJTV, New Jersey’s new public broadcasting station, was missing in action when it came to coverage of Hurricane Irene, leading Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, Jr. (D-Middlesex) on Wednesday to call for the state to revisit the contract to ensure adequate coverage for future emergencies.
“NJTV has failed their first test miserably,” Diegnan said. “While Hurricane Irene was battering our state, NJTV was airing cartoons and cooking shows. They couldn’t send a reporter to cover any of the governor’s press briefings.
“This is more than an embarrassment, it’s a disgrace,” Diegnan continued. “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.”
Throughout the hurricane, New York and Philadelphia TV channels provided around-the-clock coverage.
Diegnan and Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) 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.
“We all feared that this arrangement was a joke,” Diegnan said. “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.”
—TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM