New Jersey governor Chris Christie submitted legislation yesterday designed to end forty years of public television funding in the state, the Star-Ledger reports.
The governor’s plan would have the state treasurer take stock of the network’s assets and sell or transfer them to an existing public broadcasting outlet.
This is on top of New Jersey’s 2011 budget, passed in June, which cut $13 million of state funding.
Dudley Burdge, spokesman for the Communications Workers of America, the union representing most of NJN’s staff, told the Star-Ledger that the plan was “completely unrealistic.” He also expressed confusion as to how this plan was actually taking place: “There’s a statute establishing New Jersey Network, so how they just have the Treasurer negotiate with some one to take it over, I don’t know.” Critics have also wondered whether it’s wise for the state to simply hand over control of assets estimated to be worth $200 million.
NJN operates five TV channels and a radio station with seven frequencies. It’s one of the largest public broadcasters in the U.S., and employs 129 people.