WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
Layoff notices effective January 1, 2011 have been sent out for all of the state employees who work at New Jersey Network and the state's Public Broadcasting Authority.
A spokesperson New Jersey Governor Chris Chrsitie confirmed that the pink slips were sent as required by the state's Civil Service laws. The Governor had pledged to end the state's annual $11 million annual subsidy of the state-owned TV and radio broadcaster.
In a statement, the Chrstie Administration said the layoffs were necessary as part of a plan to shift NJN to management by an independent non-state entity. Both Christie and the Democrat-controlled legislature have said they are committed to shape a spin-off that will maintain the unique New Jersey news and cultural content at the network.
The Communications Workers of America, which represents the 130 workers at NJN, said the Governor's layoff plans meant the public broadcaster formed in 1969 might go dark. The CWA contended more time will be needed for the state legislation and Federal Communications Commission approvals that are required.
The CWA said it estimates the value of NJN's actual assets at roughly $200 million dollars.
Past efforts to spin off the network to management by a independent non-profit have sputtered.
While the state broadcaster offers public broadcasting staples like Antiques Roadshow that are available on other regional outlets, also provides award-winning news coverage of the New Jersy Statehouse and the state economy that is unique.
NJN also often serves as an outlet carrying the Governor's State of the State addresses, budget addresses and landmark legislative hearings
Several possibilities for a re-established NJN have been floated since Governor Christie pledged to pull the plug. Those alternatives include linking NJN to a higher education consortium or something configured with collaboration from other already established non-profit public broadcasters in the region. Both WNET and WNYC have been mentioned in editorials as potential players in the spin-off of NJN. A WNYC spokesperson had no comment.