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Committees Corner March 2021

EXTERNAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE:  Geoffrey Belinfante (Chair), Dustin Dumas (Vice Chair)

In recent months the External Relations committee has spent a fair amount of time working on JAG’s social media marketing efforts and improving our website.  I guess we’ve been doing something right, because we had over 1,000 visits to the site last month.  We can account for some of the increased traffic because of the vendor presentations that have been posted in the members only section.  If you missed a presentation, this is a good way to catch up.

However, there have been other changes that might not be as obvious that make the website more valuable to members.  This month we introduced a new format for the newsletter which delivers an abstract of the content right in the email and provides links to the featured articles.  Many of the links take you to the website.  Feel free to nose around when you get there.  If you have any thoughts on how to further improve the site, please let me know or join the committee.  We can always use new ideas.  You can reach me at geoffbel512@gmail.com.

FINANCE COMMITTEE:  Linda Besink (Chairs), Jeff Arban (Vice Chair)

No report provided.

PRODUCTION COMMITTEE:  Lee Beckerman (Chair), Anthony Pagliuco (Vice Chair)

The Production committee met on March 4th this month, once more virtually.

Lee Beckerman was elected to chair the committee and Anthony Pagliuco is Vice Chair.  Woodbridge is in the process of editing a new COVID testimonial from New Jersey Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and should have it completed sometime next week.  East Brunswick has also competed a COVID testimonial and will send it to Woodbridge for Branding.  Both will be forwarded for inclusion in the JAG Website as well as on our Facebook and YouTube pages.

Lee wrote a rough script for a short video on “How to Produce a Testimonial Video”.  The script is being fine-tuned and vetted by the rest of the committee and we hope to shoot it in the next coming months.

WE are still trying to put together a meeting to hash out a “Why Join JAG” script.  As several members are extra busy right now we have put this item on the back burner and are hoping to take it back up in the next couple of months.

Content for the JAG YouTube Channel has continued to be submitted by stations like EBTV, SOMA, Woodbridge and others.  We are still working on getting our subscriber numbers up to 100 to open up custom URL capabilities. We will continue to push the channel through the newsletter, and linking back to the page through social media and our website. Lee will reach out to Independent producers to try to get more participation and subscribers.  Instructions on how to send files directly to Doug are included in the newsletter, and will continue to be sent out to members.

 COMMITTEES CORNER                                                         Committee Updates

  AD HOC Committees Reports

Legislation Committee:  Dave Garb (Chair), Linda Besink (Vice Chair)

The first signs of cable company implementing the 621 Order has happened in the city of Rochester, NY.  Charter has offset its franchise fees of $350,000 for the 4th quarter of 2020 sitting that the city used PEG grant money for operating expenses. 

For your knowledge, PEG Grants can only be used for capital purchases and not for operating costs.  However, this seems more to do with an old 1992 agreement between the two parties where Rochester was getting a grant of $175,000 with a 5% per year increase.  Charter has used the Order as a catalyst for this action. 

To make it even more of a sting, Charter took this step without any any negation as to amount, methodology or other related issues.   Rochester is planning to fight this action while Charter has threatened a second offset for their next franchise fee payment.

Here in New Jersey, we don’t need to worry about this, at least at this time.  No one in our state gets this kind of payment, nor are we getting 5% or higher in franchise fees. However, it is good to see how things go outside of our state, just in case situations change and creep in our direction.

While keeping this in mind, the 621 Order will be once again challenged by our national partners.  In mid April oral arguments will be brought up in Cincinnati.  The hope is that these arguments about the Order will cause the FCC to relook at its previous ruling.

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The Board and the Office of Cable Television and Telecommunications have received complaints and resolutions from at least ten municipalities and several state legislators concerning various issues their residents and constituents cited alleging inadequacy and lack of service provided by Altice.

The complaints include frequent and lengthy service disruptions (across all services), inconsistent connections and fluctuating Internet speeds, long telephone wait times,  poor customer service, and an inability to get a satisfactory response to these issues from the company.

The ten municipalities collectively maintain that Altice has failed in its duty to provide safe, adequate and proper service to their residents.  The Board and the OCTV&T have also received complaints directly from Altice customers concerning the same grievances presented by the municipalities

After reviewing the complaints the board has found sufficient cause to convene a proceed a hearing on this matter.  It will be held on March 16, 2021 and anyone wishing to add their comments can submit it to board.secretary@bpu.nj.gov (Docket No. CX21020139).  The hearing will be virtual and information concerning participation in it will be posted on the board’s website.

On December 27, 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 became law and established an Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund to help Americans afford internet service during the pandemic.  Eligible low-income households may receive a discount off the cost of broadband service and certain connected devices, and participating providers can receive a reimbursement for such discounts.  For further information and to see if you qualify, please visit: https://www.fcc.gov/emergency-broadband-benefit-program.

As always, the Legislative Committee constantly needs your eyes, hears, thoughts and contacts in order to keep PEG fresh in the minds of all of our lawmakers.  For further information on our work, or if you would like to join our committee, please contact me.

Membership Committee:  Stephanie Gibbons (Chair), Darryl Love (Vice Chair)

The committee would like to welcome two new JAG members: River Edge Borough through the efforts of Nick Besink and New Jersey Advocates for Aging Well (NJAAW) our second non-profit organization through the efforts of George Fairfield.

We have interviewed 50% of JAG members for the member questionnaire project.  We hope to complete it at the end of the month.  So far the responses have given the committee great insight to the needs of the members.

We would like to thank the following for responding to the committee members who are reaching out for interviews: Asbury Park, Bloomfield Township, C-Net, East Brunswick Township-EBTV, Edison TV, Essex County College, Fair Lawn, Hopewell Township, Manalapan Township, Mendham Borough, Montclair State University, North Brunswick TV, Oakland Communications Commission, Old Bridge Township- OBTV, Oradell Borough, Perth Amboy BoE- PATV34, Piscataway Community Television, Princeton Community TV, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Rutgers University, South Brunswick, South Orange/Maplewood, Summit- Hometowne TV, Ventnor City, West Milford Township, Woodbridge Channels, George Bumiller, Positive Energy TV, and Greyshore Studios.

We ask that you kindly respond to the committee’s emails or phone calls to set up a date and time for an interview.  If you have not received a phone call or email about this effort, please reach out to me at Stgibbons@verizon.net.

Please consider joining the membership committee. Our next meeting is scheduled for Apr. 6. If you are interested please contact Darryl Love at DFLove@aol.com or Stephanie Gibbons at Stgibbons@verizon.net.

Leadership Development Committee:  Dave Garb (Chair), Doug Seidel (Vice Chair)

One of our continuing objectives in the Leadership Committee is to reach out to all of our members to discuss the importance of joining one of our other committees by bringing your skills to assist JAG to grow and continue to be the voice of the New Jersey PEG community.

Our LDC’s main objective is focusing on the development and promotion of JAG by re-creating our marketing strategies.  We will be utilizing social media to its fullest potential in order to aid all of JAG’s other committees in achieving their individual goals.

Chairs and/or Vice Chairs from their respective committees make up the Leadership Development Committee (LDC), as well as those individuals that are skilled and knowledgable in areas that are needed to make the LDC successful.

JAG Awards Committee:  George Fairfield (Chairs), Bob Nicholson (Vice Chair)

The JAG Awards are open for submissions.  Go to https://jagonline.org/categories/  to see which category you want to enter or go straight to https://jagonline.org/enter/ to enter.  If you would like to help plan the JAG Awards Presentation, please email gfairfield@piscatawaynj.org .  We’ll be watching for your entry.

Conference Committee:  Bob Duthaler/ Geoffrey Belinfante (Co-Chair) George Fairfield (Vice Chair)

The JAG Conference Committee has met twice during the last 30 days to work on creating a virtual conference for JAG members and those who are interested in PEG television, content and operations.  The committee has selected the following people:

            Conference Co-Chairs:  Geoffrey Belinfante and Bob Duthaler

            Vice-Chair:  George Fairfield

            Treasurer: Linda Besink

            Secretary:  Doug Seidel

At the latest meeting the committee released the dates for the upcoming Eastern Video Expo 2021(Virtual):  June 8-9-10.  Look for an updated website and open registration in Mid-April.