Last month New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed the New Jersey Public Broadcasting System Transfer Act (A3604) into law, initiating a transition to private and independent management for New Jersey Network (NJN), the state-run public broadcasting network.
Under the new law, the state Department of Treasury is responsible for implementing the privatization, specifically:
- Accounting for all of the network's assets and liabilities;
- Identifying steps necessary to transfer the network's assets and liabilities;
- Receiving, evaluating and authorizing transfer of any or all of the network's assets; and
- Guaranteeing that the new private partner retains the network's focus on New Jersey-related content.
Assets include radio operating licenses, but not the television operating licenses.
In compliance with the bill, Christie suspended layoffs for NJN employees during the transition to becoming a freestanding, independently-financed institution. Also, the bill eliminated the New Jersey Public Broadcasting Commission and replaced it with a new oversight body.
In a time of fiscal crisis, it's hard to justify the state being in the broadcasting business. Kudos to Governor Christie and the legislature for getting New Jersey out of a non-core enterprise.
Harris Kenny is a research assistant at Reason Foundation