State assembly rejects WNET deal for NJN; Senate could vote Monday

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The New Jersey Assembly, half of its state legislature, has voted down Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to turn over management of the New Jersey Network’s TV management to WNET, the Star-Ledger reports. By 45 to 30 the Assembly on Thursday (June 23) voted to block a five-year contract that would allow Public Media NJ, a nonprofit subsidiary of WNET/Thirteen, to be incorporated in the state to operate the TV network. The Senate may vote on a similar resolution on Monday, but that must pass by Tuesday to prevent the WNET deal from going through.

No one seems to agree on what may happen. Appearing before a Senate committee earlier Thursday, State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said if lawmakers reject the deal he negotiated, “NJN as we know it will cease to exist.” Layoffs of the state employees at the network will proceed and the state will do the minimum required to maintain the FCC licenses. But a senator countered, saying, “There is definitely money in the budget that could keep NJN operating” past the July 1 deadline.

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