Aug 31, 2011

NJ lawmakers criticize NJTV over Hurricane Irene coverage

NJTV's lack of live coverage of Hurricane Irene whipped at least one state lawmaker into a froth, according to the Star-Ledger. Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester), who opposed to the state’s decision to allow WNET to take over the former NJN, said NJTV officials should be embarrassed. "Its absence was glaring and unacceptable during a time of great crisis," Burzichelli said in a statement Tuesday (Aug. 30). "NJTV promised to focus solely on New Jersey, but residents got nothing from them during the hurricane."

WNET President Neal Shapiro issued in a statement in response: "As we said in June, our video gathering capability and distribution wouldn’t be ready until after Labor Day. With the small staff we have, we were still able to devote Friday evening’s broadcast to preparations … and (Monday) night’s broadcast featured the aftermath." Monday's half-hour program included reports from South Jersey, Camden, Newark and Hoboken. NJTV has six full-time employees, with plans to grow to 15. NJN had a staff of 130 full-time employees.

Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, Jr. (D-Middlesex), also complained, and called for the state to revisit the contract to ensure adequate coverage during emergencies.

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