NJN Employees Oppose Privatization Plan

Employees at NJN, New Jersey's public television network, are fighting Gov. Christie's proposal to privatize the network as of Jan. 1.

Workers argue that's not enough time to plan the transformation.

Christie has proposed cutting in half the network’s $4 million subsidy for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The state also contributes $2.4 million in employee benefits, $4.5 million in state facilities, parking and other costs to support the network.

Harold Blumenthal, NJN's interim executive director, told the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee April 20 that the network is planning its transformation into an independent nonprofit.

But Dudley Burdge, senior staff representative for Communications Workers of America Local 1032, which represents about 95 of NJN’s 129 employees, said employees fear the state is moving too quickly and with no concrete plans or vision for the new NJN.

“Will something called NJN exist? Yeah, probably,” Burdge said. “Will it have some kind of news program? Probably. But I think what our members feel is that it will be a shadow of its former self,” Burdge said.
Burdge said former governors Florio, Whitman and Corzine all previously proposed privatizing NJN, but ultimately decided not to.

“We’re fighting to maintain the organization and essentially New Jersey news, New Jersey broadcast news,” Burdge said.

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