Nine stations in the public New Jersey Network have been slated for sale to noncommercial operators based in neighboring New York and Philadelphia metro areas, along with a proposal to LMA WNJN-TV to New York’s WNET. But state legislators may block the move.
The stations going to WHYY Philadelphia include 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. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the price will be $926K cash and $612K in other value, for a total of $1.538M.
The stations going to New York Public Radio include WNJY FM 89.3 Netcong, WNJP FM 88.5 Sussex, WNJT FM 88.1 Trenton and WNJO FM 90.3 Toms River. According to reports, the foursome is going for $1M cash and $1.8M in other consideration, for a total of $2.8M.
That brings the grand total for all nine stations to $4.338M.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie stated, “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.”
Opposition to the sale is already evident, from Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to the members of the state legislature to members of relevant unions in the state. A member of Lautenberg’s staff told NorthJersey.com that the state is already underserved when it comes to broadcasting and that the senator is worried that this sends control of stations “across the river.”
RBR-TVBR observation: Of all the states that might want to consider abandoning a broadcasting network, you’d think New Jersey would be dead last on the list. The age-old complaint there has been that New Jersey news and information is eclipsed by the deep dark shadows of the two major media markets on its northeastern and southwestern borders.
It’s not like we’re talking staggering sums of cash – we haven’t dug into the NJ accounting ledgers, but we suspect that the bottom line of the state budget will look pretty much the same regardless of whether or not the proposed deals go through.
If it’s not a budget saver or buster to any large degree (and keeping in mind that the economy is going to improve at some point), the decision to place all of the state’s O&O stations directly under the thumb of entities in New York and Philadelphia just strikes us as odd, regardless of what programming guarantees may be put in place.
Pictured: Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)