Commentary

New Jersey Privatizing State Broadcasting Network

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

Harris Kenny is a state and local government policy analyst at Reason Foundation, a non-profit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.

Harris has worked alongside policymakers in Colorado, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Oregon and elsewhere to implement public policy solutions. Harris is currently serving as a member of the Local Authority Working Group of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper's Amendment 64 Task Force, which is providing guidance on implementing recreational marijuana legalization. He conducts research on public finance, public-private partnerships, privatization, public safety, criminal justice and regulatory policy issues.

Harris has appeared on various television and radio outlets, such as National Public Radio, HuffPost Live, Al Jazeera, Voice of Russia and Colorado Public Television. His writing has been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Denver Post, The Sacramento Bee, The Orange County Register, Real Clear Markets, reason.com, and other print and online outlets. He also serves as co-editor of Reason Foundation's Annual Privatization Report (reason.org/apr) and Innovators in Action (reason.org/innovators) publications.

Prior to joining Reason Foundation, Harris worked at the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation. He earned a BA in Economics from Pepperdine University, where he worked as a research assistant to Dr. Luisa Blanco at Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy.


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