NJTV is the successor to New Jersey Network (NJN), the state-controlled public television and radio service. NJN ceased operations on June 30, 2011, with Public Media NJ taking control of the former NJN television stations the following day.
The seeds which led to the eventual formation of NJTV were planted in 2008, when officials with the New Jersey Network asked the New Jersey Legislature for permission to explore the possibility of making NJN a community licensee owned by its fundraising arm, the NJN Foundation. However, on June 6, 2011, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who vowed to end state-funded public broadcasting upon taking office in 2010, announced an agreement to turn control of the NJN television network to WNET. As part of the deal, WNET.org created Public Media NJ as a separate New Jersey-based nonprofit to operate the stations. This is somewhat ironic, since NJN was created in part due to concerns WNET wasn't adequately serving the New Jersey side of its coverage area. Although WNET is licensed to Newark, for all intents and purposes it is a New York City station.
Under the terms of the deal, Public Media NJ would operate the stations for a five-year period, with two additional five-year renewable options. The New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority would retain the licenses, while Public Media NJ would receive funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and all revenues related to the former NJN technical operations. The measure was defeated by the state Assembly on June 23. The state Senate, however, passed the resolution on June 27, allowing Public Media NJ to take over NJN's television operations as scheduled on July 1, 2011. All members of NJN automatically became members of NJTV.
Caucus Educational Corporation, a nonprofit producer of New Jersey-focused public affairs programs, is under contract with Public Media NJ to provide original programming for NJTV. Caucus productions, Caucus: New Jersey, New Jersey Capitol Report and One-on-One with Steve Adubato were inherited by NJTV from NJN.
NJTV produces NJTV News, which airs weeknights in the timeslots previously occupied by NJN News. Veteran journalist Mary Alice Williams is the program's anchor NJTV News is produced at the Agnes Varis studio in Gateway Center in Newark.
On July 26, 2011, NJTV announced a partnership with the Foundation for New Jersey Public Broadcasting (formerly the NJN Foundation) to jointly fund and create additional public affairs programming. NJTV and the Foundation merged in September 2012.
29-year New Jersey Network veteran Michael Aron, the system's news director at its closure and a former member of the Foundation's board, revived his former NJN programs Reporters Roundtable and On the Record on NJTV, and also appears on NJTV News as its chief political correspondent.
NJTV's four full-power stations reach a potential audience of almost 28 million people in parts of five states – all of New Jersey, plus parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut and Delaware. While this gives NJTV one of the largest potential audiences in the country, it also must compete directly with three of the most-watched PBS member stations in the country. It not only shares its coverage area with sister stations WNET and WLIW, but also with Philadelphia's main PBS outlet, WHYY-TV (channel 12). Additionally, WLVT-TV (channel 39) in Allentown, Pennsylvania overlaps some of NJTV's broadcast area.
The NJTV television stations are:
WNJT Trenton 52
WNJS Camden 23
WNJN1 Montclair 51
WNJB New Brunswick 58
WNJN used the callsign WNJM (the M standing for Montclair) from its 1973 sign-on to 1994.
Areas in the northwestern part of New Jersey are served by the following low-powered translators:
All translators directly repeat WNJN's signal.
Cable and satellite availability
NJTV is available on all New Jersey cable providers. In addition, WNJN is available on several cable providers on the New York side of the New York City area, as well as the New York DirecTV feed. WNJB is available on Time Warner Cable's systems in Staten Island, as well as the New York Dish Network feed. WNJS is available on most cable providers in the Philadelphia area, as well as the Philadelphia DirecTV and Dish Network feeds.