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Title: PUBLIC UTILITIES
Section: Findings, declarations relative to the State's public broadcasting system.
2. The Legislature finds and declares that: a. In 1968, the Legislature passed and then Governor Richard J. Hughes signed the "New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority Act of 1968," P.L.1968, c.405 (C.48:23-1 et seq.), establishing the New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority ("authority"), the current operator of New Jersey Network Public Television and Radio ("NJN"), in response to the inability of commercial and public broadcasters to adequately cover public affairs in the State. Further, in 1990, the Legislature passed and then Governor Thomas H. Kean signed P.L.1990, c.114 (C.48:23-13 et al.), authorizing the establishment of the Foundation for New Jersey Public Broadcasting ("foundation") as NJN's fundraising arm. b. While this structure has served the State by building a broadcast network that assists in meeting the information and entertainment needs of our citizens, the current fiscal crisis confronting the State, and the inherent difficulties in operating an essentially creative, artistic, cultural, educational, and public affairs entity under the control of a State authority clearly necessitated a thorough re-examination of the State's role in public broadcasting. c. In light of the aforesaid fiscal, structural, and operational challenges, the Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations law, passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor on June 29, 2010 (P.L.2010, c.35), significantly reduced State support for public broadcasting services. d. Because of a concern that the best interests of the citizens could be harmed by any wholesale elimination of public broadcasting, the Legislature created the "Legislative Task Force on Public Broadcasting," which was charged with evaluating a potential transition of New Jersey public broadcasting assets to a nonprofit entity. The task force concluded that such entity should: (1) continue to provide New Jersey-centric programming; (2) operate Statewide; (3) implement the use of new technology; and (4) provide independent, civic journalism. e. It is therefore necessary and in the public interest to establish a legal structure within which the transfer, either by sale or lease, of the State's public broadcasting system, or delegation by contract of the responsibility for operating that system, to a nonprofit corporation or other entity eligible to operate a public broadcasting system, in any form, including, but not limited to, a transfer of its assets, including its radio operating licenses, retention of its television operating licenses, or transfer of responsibility for its operations, or an interest in them, may be accomplished in a timely manner that provides maximum benefits for the citizens of the State while, at the same time, minimizing disruption to affected employees and other interested parties. f. Because of the speculative nature of the value of the television operating license currently held by the authority, it is in the public interest for the authority to retain the television operating licenses. g. Moreover, while it is important to consider and provide for a potential asset transfer to a nonprofit corporation or similar entity, it is also in the public interest to authorize the State Treasurer to explore alternative paths to such a transfer, including, but not limited to, the outright sale of some or all of the assets of the authority. L.2010, c.104, s.2.
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