JAG’s Annual Conference Is Here – May 2024

by Geoffrey Belinfante, Conference Committee, Vice Chair

As the opening to the old soap opera declares: Like sand in an hourglass, so are the days of our lives. Well, those sands will soon run out, so if you haven’t signed up for the 2024 JAG Conference yet, you are rapidly running out of time. The conference is set to kick off at 8:00am on Thursday May 16 at the Crowne Plaza in Edison. And, if you’re not there, you’ll miss some exciting and informative sessions—not to mention a chance to socialize and network with both your fellow JAG Members and the teams from our Organizational Members.


The day starts with two users groups that you won’t want to miss. The first from TelVue starts at 8:00am and will showcase the latest improvements to the hardware and services that they provide—and best of all, breakfast will be provided.

This users group is followed by a similar users group presentation at 9:00am by Varto Technologies that will address improvements to Tri-caster technology and NDI distribution—and there will be breakfast at this users group too.


After the user groups, visit our exhibit floor, which opens at 9:00am and also offers the opportunity to have breakfast with our organizational partners. You can hear first-hand about the technical advancements they are offering. Members exhibiting include: TelVue, Varto Technologies, Cologna Productions, DeSisti Lighting, NewTek-TriCaster, LiveU, MyCaseBuilder, NJ Film Commission, Swit Electronics, Eiki Projectors & Panel Audio, JVC,G&G Technologies, Panasonic PTZ, Canon PTZ, and US-made Drones


At 10:00am we have a very interesting and informative panel presented by LiveU about their newly developed technology that helps facilitate communications between your office of emergency management (OEM) and your station during a crisis. This panel is important for both PEG station management and members of your municipality’s OEM. Both are invited to join us for this free workshop, so please invite anyone from your town who would be appropriate. Panelists include: Alex Joice, VP of Solution Sales Engineering, LiveU; John Centanni, OEM Director of East Hanover; Louis Venezia, Bloomfield Fire Chief; Luis Figueiredo, Detective Elizabeth Police Dept.; Doug Seidel, Piscataway, TV; Yervant Keshishian, Sales Engineer, Authorized Trainer and Technical Director, Varto Technologies; Moderator: Bob Duthaler, President of JAG.


Our luncheon comes next with a panel that addresses the importance of broadband deployment and what it means for the distribution of cable television in general and more specifically PEG channels. Panelists include: Robert Boyle, CEO, Planet Networks; Mike Wassenaar, President & CEO, Alliance for Community Media; Ken Fellman Esq., founder and partner, Wilson Williams Fellman Dittman; Valarry Bullard, Broadband Director, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities;  Moderator: Bob Duthaler, President, JAG.


After lunch you’ll have some decisions to make. At 1:30pm you can attend a panel on ADA Compliance and the initiatives from the DOJ in Washington that might require you to close caption your public meetings sooner rather than later.

Or you might want to check out a presentation from the NJ Motion Picture & Television Commission on the explosion of both theatrical and documentary production in the state and how your municipality and your station can benefit from all the money that production companies are spending in the state.

At 2:30pm there are more choices. One panel will explore new ways to communicate with your citizens, and a second will unravel the complex and ever-changing things you should know when renegotiating your franchise agreement with your cable provider.

3:30pm brings two more interesting and informative workshops to choose from—one on interviewing techniques that are sure to improve any production, and a second that explores the technical options available to help you conform to any closed captioning regulations that might come out of Washington.

Finally at 4:30pm, to end a busy and informative day there are two more panels to choose from. For those interested in the technical side of the business, we’ll explore some new, lighter and less expensive choices for your location shots. And for those interested in programing, we’ll explore new and unusual sources that you might have overlooked for show ideas.

For more information on any or all of these workshops and the names and bios of our presenters, please check out the conference website at www.jagconference.com .


Now that the work has been done, it’s time to socialize and network with your fellow attendees.  There’s a cocktail party sponsored by Cologna Productions starting at 5:30, followed by our banquet and JAG Awards presentation sponsored by Varto Technologies and LiveU.

The evening includes presentations of our Legislator of the Year Award to Senator Cory Booker and the Community Recognition Award to Lisa Allen, Council President, City of Summit. Additional awards include Serving Community Media Award, the President’s Ovation Award, and JAG Member Recognition Award.  Followed, of course, by the presentation of the JAG Awards recognizing excellence in PEG programming.

Thanks to our sponsors, TelVue, Varto, Planet Networks, LiveU, Cologna Productions and DeSisti for their support, and thanks to all those on the conference committee who have worked so hard to present you, the members of JAG, an exciting and informative conference. We need the support of all members to make this a success. Please join us.

Reminder, if you have interns, they can attend for free. If your township won’t pay for your attendance, scholarships are available.  Please contact Bob Duthaler.  We want as many JAG members as possible to take advantage of the events at this conference!

Registration is now open at  Shop – JAG Conference

For more information and session details, visit www.jagconference.com.

Legislative Update May 2024: News from Trenton & Washington, DC

by Dave Garb, Legislative Committee Chair

A lot of decisions have happened in our nation’s capital this past month. Here is a brief rundown of a few of the current actions that will have an effect on local governments, as well as decision that will change internet policies and protect consumers:

DOJ’s ADA Rule for State and Local Governments


April 8, 2024 – Attorney General Merrick Garland signed a final rule under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure the accessibility of web content and mobile applications (apps) for people with disabilities.

This final rule clarifies the obligations of state and local governments to make their websites and mobile applications accessible. Every day, people across the country use the web and mobile apps to access public programs and services, including emergency information, courts, healthcare providers, schools, voting information, parking, permit applications, tax payments, and transit updates. If these technologies are not accessible, it can be difficult or impossible for people with disabilities to access critical services. Consequently, individuals with disabilities may be excluded from accessing public services that other people routinely use.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) for state and local governments’ web content and mobile apps:



This table shows how much time a state or local government has to comply with this rule. State and local government sizeCompliance date
0 to 49,999 personsThree years after the final rule is published
Special district governmentsThree years after the final rule is published
50,000 or more personsTwo years after the final rule is published

For clarity on this ruling and how it will affect PEG channels in the future, join us at this year’s JAG Conference for a special session on these rules. On May 16 at 1:30pm learn about this very important topic *ADA Compliance-Updates on the DOJ Rulings and Closed Captioning for Municipal Websites and PEG Channels*.Please join us for this MUST KNOW session! For more information on how to attend this forum, please visit https://jagconference.com/.


Reasserts Broadband Jurisdiction, Reestablishing National Open Internet Standard

Press Release from the FCC:

April 25, 2024—The Federal Communications Commission today voted to restore a national standard to ensure the internet is fast, open, and fair. Today’s decision to reclassify broadband service as a Title II telecommunications service allows the FCC to protect consumers, defend national security, and advance public safety.

Through its actions today, the Commission creates a national standard by which it can ensure that broadband internet service is treated as an essential service. Today’s vote also makes clear that the Commission will exercise its authority over broadband in a narrowly tailored fashion—without rate regulation, tariffing, or unbundling—to foster continued innovation and investment.

With today’s vote, the Commission restores fundamental authority to provide effective oversight over broadband service providers, giving the Commission essential tools to:

  • Protect the Open Internet – Internet service providers will again be prohibited from blocking, throttling, or engaging in paid prioritization of lawful content, restoring the rules that were upheld by the D.C. Circuit in 2016.
  • Safeguard National Security – The Commission will have the ability to revoke the authorizations of foreign-owned entities who pose a threat to national security to operate broadband networks in the U.S.  The Commission has previously exercised this authority under section 214 of the Communications Act to revoke the operating authorities of four Chinese state-owned carriers to provide voice services in the U.S.  Any provider without section 214 authorization for voice services must now also cease any fixed or mobile broadband service operations in the United States.
  • Monitor Internet Service Outages – When workers cannot telework, students cannot study, or businesses cannot market their products because their internet service is out, the FCC can now play an active role. 

For further information on Net Neutrality, including the history of this proceeding starting in 2004 when the then Chairman of the agency challenged the broadband industry to preserve “Internet Freedoms” followed by more than a decade of work to secure these protections, visit: https://www.fcc.gov/net-neutrality.

FCC, FTC Formalize Partnership for Protecting the Open Internet

Press Release from the FCC:

On April 30, 2024, FCC Release: The FCC and the Federal Trade Commission have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to coordinate consumer protection efforts following the FCC’s restoration of Net Neutrality.

For the full press release, please go to: https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-ftc-formalize-partnership-protecting-open-internet

The FCC’s recent decision to reclassify broadband service as a Title II telecommunications service allows the FCC to protect consumers, defend national security, and advance public safety.

The FCC will return to its traditional position as the enforcer of essential rules as they apply to broadband service providers, a critical part of telecommunications infrastructure. This includes prohibitions against blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization practices; transparency requirements; consumer protections related to internet service outages; and basic consumer privacy protections which have long applied to phone networks. The MOU terminates the 2017 Restoring Internet Freedom FCC-FTC Memorandum of Understanding. It clarifies that commitments under prior MOUs, including the 2003 Memorandum of Understanding regarding Telemarketing Enforcement, as well as the 2015 FCC-FTC Consumer Protection Memorandum of Understanding, remain in effect and are not altered or invalidated by the new MOU.

President’s Message: May 2024 All Your Membership Benefits, In One Day!!

by Bob Duthaler

There are many reasons to be a Jersey Access Group member. You can interact with members who do the same job as you, access special group pricing from JAG organizational members, participate in face-to-face networking and educational and interactive sessions. While these are available to JAG members all year, what if you could access all that in just one day? Wouldn’t you take advantage of it? Well, you can at the JAG Conference on Thursday May 16 and you still have time to register.

This event has it all! Educational and training sessions, vendors on hand demonstrating some of the latest gear and services, networking with vendors and other members, and an evening awards show that highlights all the great programming created by member stations throughout the state.

JAG works hard to put this conference on each year. The goal is to educate and inform our members. Our vendors to provide access to the latest gear, so our members can see, touch and learn. Our vendors also host special user groups that allow JAG members to get the most out of the products they use, educate members on software updates and provide tips to make your operation more successful.

JAG works with its partners in New Jersey and nationally to bring you important information throughout the day at the conference. Find out about the latest on Capitol Hill, get operational insights to help you run your station, learn more about technology updates and video trends. JAG has access to experts from around the country who track recent legislation, explore the latest trends and watch what other stations and cable companies are doing throughout the country. We put together information and education sessions that help our members stay informed!

Want more? How about an evening networking event and banquet that showcases the best of the best. See what stations around the state are doing as they showcase their programming in the annual JAG Video Awards. Join us as we pay tribute to the creativity and hard work our members do throughout the year. Members compete to see who is the best of the best in over 20 different categories. Come cheer them on! Be inspired by what other JAG members are creating. This is an incentive to step your game. It’s always a great end to an action-packed day.

If you have not done so already, go to the JAG Conference website at: www.jagconference.com and register now! If you have already registered, visit the website and explore all the sessions that are planned throughout the day. Plan your schedule and get the most out of this year’s conference. So much is going on throughout the day, bring a friend or co-worker so you can split up and cover all the sessions. Stop what you are doing and register now! I hope to see everyone at this year’s conference. Go to the website now to register and explore this year’s conference:  www.jagconference.com. NOTE: If you experiencing financial hardships that might prevent you from attending, reach out to me immediately. There are a limited number of JAG scholarships that will allow you to attend the conference at limited to no-cost. Email me at bduthaler@jagonline.org right now – DO NOT WAIT.

Spotlight: John Kaplow, A Path to Community Television

John Kaplow

By John Kaplow, Independent Producer

As one of the independent producers in our group I have been asked to write a short piece about my training, background and current work. Here goes…

In 1967 the principal of my junior high school called me out of class to come to his office. In those days it meant the end of your world, except I didn’t know what infraction I had committed. The principal knew I was on the lighting crew – he had just purchased one of the first Sony Porta-Paks and told me to take a few classes ‘off’ and learn how to use it! I was hooked on using video to have fun and make money. I moved onto the lighting crew in high school and got to briefly talk with William Shatner who had just become famous with Star Trik.

After several attempts at college, I enrolled in NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Among my student projects was working with Divine as she taped a demo of “Women Behind Bars” and  commercials for Drakes Cakes for the Hispanic market. That’s where I learned that actors working with food have to have a bucket to spit out the food because after so many takes the actor would have a stomach ache!

I left NYU after 2 ½ years and sold all my belongings to travel to Los Angeles to accept a two-day job as a PA on an HBO Special. Most of my time was with Imero Fiorentino Associates, a lighting design company, as a staff PA. I worked on many great shows like “The Big Show” (someday I’ll tell you about the fight between Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond).

An actors’ strike forced me to leave LA and move back to the East Coast. First, I worked for SIR, a musical instrument rental and rehearsal studio company with offices in LA and NYC. My first job? I became a designated tech for the second and third year of Saturday Night Live. Someday I’ll tell you about hanging out at the downtown bar that Belushi and Ackroyd bought so they had somewhere to go and decompress after the show wrapped that night.

I decided at this point to move away from production and into the business side of the industry. I joined Worldvision Enterprises, a syndication company. For three years I was the booker/scheduler for all episodes of “Little House on the Prairie” shown domestically, but I never got the chance to meet Melissa Gilbert.

Feeling that I was, as they say, ready to go out on my own, I started a small (one-person) production company, NJ VideoWorks, in 1987. I produced/directed programs for small ad agencies, non-profits and got my first taste of municipal work. Public access cable was just growing up at this time. I helped start Ocean Township’s channel in 2005 and volunteered there until 2007 when I moved to Asbury Park.

I started videotaping council meetings, using my own equipment. A woman had attempted to do this a few years before and was removed by police at the councils request, so I was warned about what I could be facing. However, I was allowed to continue. I posted the meetings on a YouTube channel which I established for just this purpose. This effort won the trust of the council, and in 2007 I was invited  by them to start work on establishing an Asbury Park channel.

For the first two years my time (unpaid) was taken with working with the cable carriers to get a head-end installed, writing our charter, and recruiting people to serve on the newly formed Asbury Park Cable Advisory Committee. I left APTV in 2010 to return to my business, which was almost entirely gone after two years of neglect. I did work for the local chamber of commerce, two different boards of education and another local access channel.

I am currently semi-retired (what’s that?), but still produce work for an ad agency, the Asbury Park Board of Education and a couple of non-profits.

I don’t know about the future of municipal access television. It’s really important yet still needs to fight for its place, and budget, every day. I have enjoyed my career tremendously, and I look forward to more adventures!

JAG’s Annual Conference Taking Shape – April 2024

by Geoffrey Belinfante, Conference Committee, Vice Chair

The clock is ticking, time is of the essence, you’re running out of time, you need to act now, we’re almost down to the wire, the deadline is looming (thanks to AI for the list)—but no matter which cliché you to choose, our 2024 JAG Conference is just a little over a month away so you should think about registering now at www.jagconference.com or go to the JAG website and click on the conference tab. What will happen if you don’t register? You’ll miss out on informative workshops, a chance to catch up on new technology, and an opportunity to network with your colleagues. The conference is at the Crowne Plaza in Edison, NJ n May 16, but no need to write it down now, you can be sure I’ll remind you again at the end of the article. I just thought I would mention it now, just in case you don’t make it to the end.

Your conference committee has spent quite a lot of time planning a slew of informative panels for your education and enjoyment. A complete list can be found on the website, but here are some that you might find particularly interesting:

  • This year JAG has added a special session on new technology that will allow PEG Channels to more easily interface with their town’s office of Emergency Management to bring citizens important real time update in case of an emergency. Panelists will include: Alex Joice, VP of Solution Sales Engineering, LiveU and representatives from OEM, fire, and police. This is a must attend for stations managers and OEM representatives alike so bring along the folks from your Office of Emergency Management so everyone on their team is up-to-date on the latest technology. This session is sponsored by LiveU.

Municipal OEM staff, fire and police officials can attend this workshop for free!

  • We’ve been talking about the need to add close captioning to our meetings for several years now and it appears that the time is rapidly approaching when all public meeting will have to be captioned. Interestingly, this year’s initiative is coming from the Justice department rather than the FCC. There will be two workshops on this topic, one on the legal rumblings from Washington and another on the technology available to implement captioning when required.
  • For those interested in improving the quality of their programs, you won’t want to miss the workshops on techniques to sharpen your storytelling and ways to improve your interviews from professionals who make their living interviewing people every day. Panelist include Kristina Behr, Emmy-Winning News Anchor and Host
  • For those who are interested in improving the on-air look of those interviews, there is a workshop on a new LED light kit that makes location lighting a bit easier and is lot lighter to carry then some of those old tungsten light kits that we all use to schlep around from place to place.
  • If you are responsible for getting information to your town’s citizens then you won’t want to miss our workshop on alternate ways to communicate with your citizens, and then you can attend a workshop on places to look for new programing ideas to send to those citizens.

The conference will also feature user group meeting sponsored by The TelVue Corporation and Varto Technologies to fill you in on what’s new with their products and to answer operational questions for those who may have a particular issue. If you want to see something specific, you can also visit many of our organizational members in our exhibitor room.

JAG will be presenting a number of recognition awards including the Legislator of the Year award to Senator Cory Booker and Municipal Excellence Award to Lisa Allen, Council President, City of Summit. There will also be awards presented to JAG members for their contributions in support of JAG’s mandate to include: JAG Member Recognition Award and the President’s Ovation Awards.

At our luncheon, we will explore the progress of the broadband expansion in our state and what it means the way PEG channels will be delivered in the future, and why you should care! Panelists to include: Robert Boyle, CEO, Planet Networks; Mike Wassenaar, President & CEO, Alliance for Community Media and others to help gaze into their crystal balls at the future of television delivery.

In the evening, there is a great opportunity to network with your fellow JAG members and participating exhibitors at a cocktail hour, followed by a banquet and our annual JAG Awards and some special presentation. Lighting to be supplied by Paul DeStefano, Northeast Regional Sales Manager, DeSisti Lighting.

Great information, great people, great food (OK maybe the food isn’t up to the quality of a Michelin star but it will be tasty}—you won’t want to miss the 2024 JAG Conference. Log on to jagconference.com right now to sign up, and we’ll see you at the Crowne Plaza in Edison on May 16.

Registration is now open at  Shop – JAG Conference

For more information and session details, check out the conference tab on our website, jagonline.org/conference or log on to www.jagconference.com. Be sure to check back often to follow additions to the schedule. New events and sessions are being added all the time.

Thanks to the following JAG Organizational and Municipal members who will be participating as panelist or moderators and sharing their knowledge that will help to increase the quality of municipal TV stations in NJ.

  • Jesse Lerman President/CEO, TelVue Corporation
  • Yervant Keshishian, Sales Engineer, Varto Technologies
  • Ken Fellman, Esq., Wilson Williams Fellman Dittman
  • Alex Joice, VP of Solution Sales Engineering, LiveU
  • Ed Cologne, President/CEO, Cologna Productions
  • Paul DeStefano, Northeast Regional Sales Manager, DeSisti
  • Bob Duthaler, President of JAG
  • Dave Garb, Legislative Chair, JAG
  • Geoffory Belinfante, External Relations Chair, JAG
  • Gina Forbes, Station Manager, Woodbridge TV
  • Don Smith, Station Manager, Cranford TV
  • Anthony Pagliuco, Station Manager, East Brunswick TV
  • Joe Fernandes, Producer, Woodbridge TV
  • Brandon Uhlig, Station Manager, Metuchen TV

Call for Vendors

Booth size and event sponsors: Link to register: https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/ev/reg/889386h

Exhibitors include:

  • TelVue Corporation
  • Varto Technologies
  • Cologna Productions
  • NJ Film Commission
  • MyCaseBuilder
  • DeSisti Lighting
  • G&G Technologies
  • Panasonic PTZ’s
  • Canon PTZ’s
  • LiveU
  • JVC
  • Eiki- Projectors & Panel Audio
  • Swit Electronics
  • Drones-US made

Thanks to our sponsors:


Titanium-Planet Networks

Platinum-Varto Technologies


Gold-Cologna Productions

Gold-DeSisti Lighting

Legislative Update April 2024: News from Trenton & Washington, DC

by Dave Garb, Legislative Committee Chair

On Thursday May 16, JAG ( Jersey Access Group) will be hosting our yearly conference (jagconference.com) at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Edison, New Jersey. This event brings together many facets of the community media world, including access television stations, municipal and elected officials, advocates/supporters of community media and telecommunication issues and services.

One of the main topics we will be discussing will be on different areas of legislation and regulations that are currently out there or will be coming in the near future. These special sessions are in areas that we, not only need to be aware of, but some of which we must have a proactive mentality about.

At 10:00am we will start off with: Understanding Franchising and What to Know When Renegotiating. Learn what the main differences are between a State Franchise and the ones negotiated at the municipal level? Which one is a better choice and can a municipality have a say on which one they prefer? Franchise monies are going down due to the streaming industry, so what can we do during negotiations to curb this?

  • Bills are being introduced around the country that are trying to force streamers to pay a per subscriber fee to municipalities. Find out how this going and, if successful, what does that mean for the local access station.

At 12:00pm we will be presenting a special session: Why PEG Stations Should Care about Broadband Deployment. Come and understand how the broadband landscape will change how Access TV stations distributes their content to their residents.

  • You will discover how the cable companies and the existence of your channels will change in the immediate future and what you might need to do now to prepare for it?
  • Other questions to be answered will include how could this work for us to quickly obtain HDTV? Will broadband help to end the digital discrimination/black holes that now exist in many NJ community and how?

At 1:30pm comes a very important session that all of us need to prepare for: ADA Compliance-Updates on the DOJ Rulings and Closed Captioning for Municipal Websites and PEG Channels. Last December we held a special webinar about what might be coming out about closed captioning. One fact resonated among all else, start budgeting for it just in case we must need to start doing so quickly.

  • For this forum, we are going to expand on this issue by comprehending the latest information that municipalities and PEG stations need to be concerned about. Don’t be afraid! We all must be educated on what may occur.
  • Find out if PEG Channels are safe to ‘not’ caption as stated under the FCC rulings or is this something that is now a must now because of the DOJ’s Rulings?
  • Also discover how long we have to comply with these rulings? What can be done if a station just doesn’t have the funds to make this happen? What should we focus on when it comes to captioning. (public meetings, sports, concerts, etc.).

Scary? Maybe. But right after this eye-opening session, we will then be holding another one to help you further understand what is out there to make closed captioning a reality.

At 2:30pm we will continue with: Understanding Franchising and What to Know When Renegotiating. Learn what the main differences are between a State Franchise and the ones negotiated at the municipal level? Which one is a better choice and can a municipality have a say on which one they prefer? Franchise monies are going down due to the streaming industry, so what can we do during negotiations to curb this?

  • Bills are being introduced around the country that are trying to force streamers to pay a per subscriber fee to municipalities. Find out how this going and, if successful, what does that mean for the local access station.

At 3:30pm will be: Closed Captioning – Easy Solutions and Cost Considerations to Make it Happen. This special workshop will explore the components TV facilities need to know about in order to incorporate closed captioning into your work flow.

  • This will offer an understanding of what products are currently out there, the ease of use and time constraints on the user, dual language abilities for the make-up of your community, and of course, the costs associated with incorporating it.

2024 Legislator of the Year Award Presentation at the Annual JAG Conference

US Senator Cory Booker

The Jersey Access Group recognizes New Jersey’s US Senator Cory Booker as our 2024 Legislator of the Year.

Senator Booker recognizes the importance of communicating to residents through their municipal access television channels. He understands its essential need as it provides transparent, and sometimes vital, information that is specific to each community as well as its need to continue to thrive at the local levels.

Senator Booker was invited and sent a staff representative to last year’s JAG Conference to learn more about the work of the Jersey Access Group. At that conference JAG requested Senator Booker’s help in protecting community television which resulted in his signing on as a co-sponsor of the Protecting Community Television Act S340.

There has been quite a lot of actions happening in New Jersey as well as down in our nation’s capital this past month.  Here is a brief rundown of current issues and upcoming actions that may affect local governments and well as federal and state internet policies and programs.

Bill to Reform OPRA Delayed

Last month New Jersey’s Assembly Appropriations Committee pulled legislation that would modernize the Open Public Records Act ( A-4045) from its agenda. The Act had been fast-tracked through the legislature, despite outcries from activists who insist if this was to pass, it would make government significantly less transparent.

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin has slowed down this legislation in order to allow it to be relooked at, and work with parties on all sides of the bill to find compromises to some points of disagreement with it.

From “The New Jersey Globe”:

“We have an open and transparent process where anyone can walk into the State House and have an open and honest discussion with their elected representatives on any legislation being considered. I am inspired that so many people have taken an interest and engaged in this legislation,” Coughlin said. “Understanding how important it is to maintain transparency and the right of the public to know what their government is doing, I appreciate the concerns raised about  A-4045. Right now, we are working on various amendments to ensure we get the bill right.”

Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus Backs Legislation to Protect Internet Access for Low-Income Families:

Press Release from the Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus:

The Problem Solvers Caucus, Co-Chaired by Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), has sixty-two Members evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. On March 28th, The caucus announced its endorsement of the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act: (HR-6929/S-3565). This Legislation will facilitate the continuation of the Affordable Connectivity Program through the end of 2024 while lawmakers work to identify a more permanent solution. The program is currently on track to shut down at the end of April, disrupting broadband access for tens of millions of Americans.

The Affordable Connectivity Program was established in January 2022 and has connected over 23 million U.S. households – more than one in six – with access to high-speed, reliable internet. Under the program, low-income households can receive up to $30 each month to supplement the cost of internet service as well as a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a computer or tablet.

“In the twenty-first century, broadband connectivity is essential to maximizing educational opportunities, stimulating economic growth, lowering health care costs, investing in a skilled workforce, and connecting individuals with their loved ones,” said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05). “I’m glad that the members of the Problem Solvers Caucus came together to endorse the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act of 2024, which will ensure the 23 million households who rely on ACP stay connected.”


Press Release from the FCC:

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced the Commission will vote during its open meeting on April 25, to restore Net Neutrality, which would bring back a national standard for broadband reliability, security and consumer protection.  If adopted, the Chairwoman’s proposal would ensure that broadband services are treated as an essential resource deserving of FCC oversight under Title II authority.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CFlYDEs4Ww

“The pandemic proved once and for all that broadband is essential,” said Chairwoman Rosenworcel. “A return to the FCC’s overwhelmingly popular and court-approved standard of net neutrality will allow the agency to serve once again as a strong consumer advocate of an open internet.” If adopted, the proposal would:

  • Return Popular Net Neutrality Protections – Prevent broadband providers from blocking,
  • slowing down, or creating pay-to-play internet fast lanes.
  • Provides Oversight of Broadband Outages.
  • Boost Security of Broadband Networks.
  • Increase Consumer Protections – Protect consumers data information.
  • Restore Widely Accepted National Standard – Keeps internet access fast, open, and fair.

The meeting will be open to the public and streamed live at www.fcc.gov/live. If adopted, the reclassification and rules would largely go into effect 60 days after Federal Register publication.

All-In Pricing for Cable and Satellite Television Service:

From “NATOA – National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors”:

On March 19, the FCC posted the All-In Pricing order on its website. The rules, adopted in a 3-2 vote, require cable and satellite TV operators to provide a single price for programming on bills and promotional materials, including ads. The rules take effect nine months from this date or “after the Office of Management and Budget completes review of any information collection requirements that may be required under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), whichever is later.” Small cable operators received three months more to comply or one year in total. The FCC’s definition of small is “those with annual receipts of $47 million or less.”

Additional from the FCC All-In Order:

  • This action was taken by the FCC to benefit video consumers by requiring cable operators and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers to specify the “all-in” price for video programming in their promotional materials that include pricing information and on subscribers’ bills. This action enables consumers to make purchasing decisions with access to clear, easy-to-understand, and accurate information disclosing the price of video programming. The FCC believes that an “all-in” price for video service also will increase transparency and have a positive effect on competition in the video programming marketplace by allowing consumers to make better informed choices among the ranges of video programming service options available to them.

JAG (Jersey Access Group) constantly advocates, analyzes and addresses emerging issues in areas such as: Local Government Communications and Internet Policy. JAG promotes, and preserves the right to media production, distribution, civic engagement, and education in support of diverse community voices, through Public, Educational and Government access facilities and other forms of media.

The Debate is Over, and the Result is……… What PEG Stations Have Been Waiting For

Paul A. Distefano

By Paul A. Distefano, NE Regional Sales Manager, DeSisti Lighting

I joined DeSisti in 2019, and before I made my first sales call for them, there had been an ongoing debate. DeSisti has always been a premium product, preferred by broadcasters, and is used in broadcast studios from small markets to networks. With our patented optics, we generally outperform our competitors with superior white CCTs (Correlated Color Temperature), very high CRIs (Color Rendering Index), and higher output at lower wattages, across our entire product line. Of course, that high standard of quality comes with a commensurate price. Thus, the debate.

Could DeSisti produce a more affordable fixture, maintain our high standard of quality, and fit within the budgetary constraints of TV production entities such as non-network broadcasters, like the PEG community?  Well, the debate is over. The answer is YES! At the Live Design International Conference last December, DeSisti introduced our “Lite” line of fixtures. These new Fresnels and Softlights feature high-efficiency emitters, quiet fanless operation, DMX control, all steel construction, multiple fixed white, variable white, and full-spectrum color versions, and DeSisti’s patented optical system…. All at a much more affordable price.

We offer 6”, 50W Fresnels and 12” x 22” 150W Softlights in 3200°K Tungsten, 4000°K Neutral, 5600°K Daylight, and 2700° – 6500°K Variable White with CRIs over 96 and TLCI (Television Lighting Consistency Index) above 97. Our SoftLED1-LITE VW+RGB is a 1×1 60W Softlight featuring variable white CCTs plus red, green, and blue. Control of all modes (VW from 2700° – 10,000°K, 4-Zone, HSI (Hue/Saturation/Intensity), FX, and Pixel FX) via DMX or Bluetooth, AC/DC operation, and light control via included 4-leaf barndoors, optional softbox or honeycomb grids. F6LITE Fresnels start at under $1,500.00 list. The SoftLEDLITE2 starts at under $2,400.00. The SoftLED1LITE-VW+RGB lists for under $900.00!

So, for all of you who have put off updating your studio lighting or remote kits to LED because of the cost, we now have something to discuss. As a (very) simple example: Let’s say that we needed to outfit a system to light two subjects with simple 3-point lighting in an interview set. Using (4) F4.7 DeSisti Fresnels as keys and backs…. And (2) of our SoftLED2 Softlights for fills, all single color, the LIST price would be almost $16,000. If we substitute with (4) of our new F6LITE-VW and (2) SoftLED1LITE-VW+RGB, not only do you now have the capability of variable CCT whites and full color, but the list price comes down to under $9,100.00. That is over 40% less. This is a very basic comparison, but I believe you see my point. We are presenting the Lite line at the NAB conference on April 12, and I will be presenting to JAG the following week at the April 24 meeting, and again at the JAG Conference on May 16. Please come out and check out these incredible new lights or let me know if you would like a demo at your studio. In the meantime, click here to see data sheets on the Lite line, as well as any other DeSisti products https://www.desisti.it/wp/exhibitions-2024/. I look forward to seeing you all on April 24.

President’s Message: April 2024 Station Check List – JAG Can Help Grow Your Station

by Bob Duthaler

This article is an updated version of one I did previously, with more information, details and solutions. Moving your station forward is always the goal as a station manager. Here are some ideas on how you can grow, strengthen and improve your station operations and overall appearance. They are in no particular order, so use these as a guide for your station. Do all or do some, but the key to change and growth is to do something.

Use What You Have and Use It to the Fullest We are all guilty of this, I know that I am.  What am I referring to? Just about any product or software you have in your place. You would be surprised how much they have to offer and how we don’t use them to their full potential. What are some examples of this? How can I find solutions? I will give you a couple examples, but take inventory of all your hardware and software, research all they have to offer, then train yourself to use all they have to offer. Read all product material that came with your purchase, find user guides enclosed or online, and search for useful videos on the web. For our purpose I am going to talk about broadcast systems and multi-camera productions. Each one of these are important to station productions, operations and overall appearance.

Broadcast Servers:

Do you know how to schedule series programs?

Do you know how to use squeeze backs?

Do you know how to add “now playing” and “up next” snipe graphics?

Do you run a station logo or bug?

Are you running text crawl messages and incorporating emergency notifications?

Do you know how to add closed captioning?

Multi-camera Productions:

Do you understand the concept of two-hand switching?

Do you know how to use M/E?

Are you doing live graphics?

Do you know how to create virtual sets and chromakey?

Do you know how to roll in video clips?

Do you know how to bring in sources over the network, web and other sources?

Learn all the above and more. How? Come to the JAG conference on Thursday, May 16 and attend the special user group session by Telvue and Newtek. Learn the ins and outs of your broadcast server, make creative bulletin boards and discover the extra features that make your station stand out during the Telvue users group. Get the most out of your live or live-to-tape productions by fully understanding all that your switcher can do. Learn how to create a picture-in-picture effect, virtual sets and how to bring in sources over your network or internet. Varto Technologies will review all this and a lot more during their Vizrt Tricaster users group. Learn to get the most out of all the equipment you already own or are looking to get. Register now for this year’s event at www.jagconference.com

Cable, live streaming on social media, and cord cutters, serve them all… The time has come to serve everyone in your community, whether they have cable or not.  Gone are the days the cable was the only way to see your station.  As the viewing habits of the residents in your community change, so your operations must change to reach them. But how do you reach them?  What are the benefits of live streaming? Is there a way to reach the cord cutters? Apple TV, ROKU and Amazon Fire, are not just for Netflix. Learn how you can get your channel on these platforms and more. What about creating videos for all the new social media formats like Reels, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Special workshops geared for this topic, along with vendors with the knowledge and ability to show you an affordable way to get your station broadcasting in platforms you never thought were possible. Where? Come to the JAG conference on Thursday, May 16 at the Crowne Plaza in Edison, NJ. Learn how create these special videos, get access to affordable streaming equipment, have your channel on OTT platforms and a lot more.  Register now for this year’s event at www.jagconference.com

Know what the future of PEG could hold, and know what you are entitled to now…  One of the biggest ways to be successful in our industry is to understand the laws the govern our industry and what you should be advocating for. Over the years JAG has fought hard to get your station access to training and equipment. JAG also made it possible for you to have a high-definition channel. But do you know how to go about getting these? Wouldn’t you like to learn what stations around New Jersey and the country are getting in their local franchise negotiations? Knowledge is power, which becomes an advantageous ally when dealing with cable companies during your franchise renewal. I am sure you don’t have time to sit and track all the state and federal legislation that pertains to PEG-TV, broadband and more on a regular basis. If you are looking for an easy explanation of all the above, in a clear, concise way for you to understand and bring back to your cable board or local government, then you need to attend the annual JAG Conference on Thursday, May 16. Learn about current legislation, FCC rules and proposed legislation in special topics during the legislative sessions scheduled during the JAG Conference in Edison, NJ. Register now for this year’s event at www.jagconference.com.

VHS Tapes, File Based Broadcast Servers, Closed Captioning and AI We have watched our industry change over the years, but what is in store next?  Are you contemplating the addition of closed captioning to your station? What is the best approach? Should you have an on-site unit or a cloud-based subscription? What about remote video transmission, is there an affordable solution out there? Can you harness the power of the internet and cellular data to transmit live video? How about AI technology? More and more we are hearing about the use of AI and what it may mean to our industry. There is so much new technology out there and more is on the way after the NAB Tradeshow. How can you keep up with it all? Get caught up with some of the latest and greatest right here in New Jersey at JAG’s annual conference. Mark your calendar now and click the registration link: www.jagconference.com and set yourself up to be in the know. Join us on Thursday, May 16for a one-day event that will surely enhance your knowledge and ability to successfully operate your station.

Respond faster and make informed tactical decisions! By working together, local government access TV and the OEM can enhance the community’s overall awareness, preparedness, and responsiveness during emergencies. To that extent, the Jersey Access Group (JAG) will be hosting an informational panel session on OEM, fire and police working collaboratively with local government access channels to disseminate information to the public in real time. This session will also include a discussion and demonstration of using drones, video and bonded cellular technology to get mission critical, real-time video to both mobile command units and OEM command centers. “It is very important to emergency management that we collaborate with local tv stations to ensure important and timely information is provided to our citizens before, during and after a disaster.” Dennis VanNatta, MAS ,CEM, OEM coordinator Township of Scotch Plains, New Jersey. JAG is offering this session FREE to all OEM, Police and Fire Officials on Thursday, May 16 at the Crowne Plaza in Edison, NJ. This session is sponsored by the Jersey Access Group, Varto Technologies and LiveU. A special registration for all police, fire and OEM officials will give them access before and after the session to have a chance to visit the JAG conference floor which will have some of the latest technology in drones, video equipment and bonded cellular technology. To register for this free session please go the JAG Conference website: www.jagconference.com . For more information, please feel free to reach out to me, Bob Duthaler (JAG President) at bduthaler@jagonline.org  for a special information sheet on this session. Space is limited. Act fast. Register now!!! So much is going on throughout the day at the JAG Conference. But, there is still time for networking with others in our industry and vendors from around the country. This event is designed specifically for those in the PEG community. It is our chance to get together, discuss topics that pertain to our industry, learn the latest and interact with each other. There is no doubt this is the one event each year you do not want to miss. Register now for JAG’s Conference 2024 on Thursday, May 16 in Edison, NJ.  Don’t wait!!!  www.jagconference.com. I look forward to seeing everyone at this year’s event!

How to Work With Your TV Committee

by Geoffrey Belinfante, External Relations Committee, Chair

This month, on Thursday March 21, JAG is scheduled to have a Managers Roundtable on how to work with cable TV committees/commissions. Here in West Milford we don’t have a TV committee per se, all of the folks who are involved in the running of WM77 are considered commissioners and serve on what we call the TV commission. While most of us run the day-to-day operation of the station, the most important commissioners are the two liaisons from the council that represent our interests.  And represent us –with enthusiasm and insights about what the mayor and council are thinking.

Ada Erik and Marilyn Lichtenberg have been staunch supports of the station since its inception more than 10 years ago.  Ada, whom many of you know, was instrumental in getting the station launched and she is the first to tell anyone who will listen that she and her fledgling committee couldn’t have done it without JAG.  Likewise, the members of the committee couldn’t have done it without the full support of our council liaisons.

During the early days, we got guidance from JAG about everything from policies and procedures to technical advice on equipment purchases, but once the station was up and running, it was our council liaisons who provided those of us on the operational side with the support to keep us going. 

As you might expect, not everyone on the council was a fan of the station. Some members didn’t want the meetings filmed at all and others were concerned that there was yet another item to finance with a budget that was already tight. However. the station persevered despite the naysayers and doubters. In the early days, our program schedule was filled with council meetings, a community bulletin board and not much more. Then, gradually we added programing, in part thanks to the JAG server, but inevitably, at the urging of our council liaisons, there was the desire to produce more local programming and of course that meant the need for new equipment. I suppose that’s the normal progression for stations like ours, but our detractors on the council had their reservations. When faced with the need for more funding, Ada very wisely told the commissioners to give the township more local programming to make the channel more valuable to residents.  This turned out to be sound advice. 

First, we kept it simple, adding single camera shoots of school board meetings, lecturers at the library and town events like coverage of our Autumn Lights Festival and Memorial Day Ceremonies. Finally, we added more ambitious coverage of some of our high school sports, our summer concerts and a series of musical performances from a restaurant in town known as the Vreeland Store.  We even won our first JAG Award for a local show we produced on a Civil War reenactment at the historic Long Pond Iron Works in town. Just as Ada predicted, we gave the council and the residents programming that they didn’t know they wanted, but once they had it, WM77 was able to raise its profile among its most important constituents—the township council.  

The end result was, over time, funding for two new cameras, a wireless microphone package, a LiveU solo, a Black Magic switcher with monitor and an audio board. While we still don’t have a studio, there is even hope that the township will find us a permanent home in the very near future.

So, based on our experience up here in the highlands, the cable commission and its council liaisons, Ada and Marilyn, have been a driving force for our growth.  I would urge all members who have to work with a TV Commission to treat them as partners.  Win their respect with your dedication and the creative programs you produce. Give the council and your residence something they didn’t know they needed. Allow them to see themselves, their children and their elected officials at work and at play. Give them something they can’t see anywhere else on the dial—themselves.

JAG’s Annual Conference Taking Shape – 2024

by Geoffrey Belinfante, Conference Committee, Vice Chair

Just like a fine red wine that gets better as it breaths, JAG’s conference gets better and better as the plans mature.  Okay, okay, perhaps the analogy is a bit over the top, but indulge me. Your conference committee has been working diligently to assemble a series of workshops that will make this year’s conference special—no matter what your interests. The wine has been breathing since the last article. Sessions are in three categories. Here’s a preview:


  • Understanding Franchising and What to Know When Renegotiating

If you are interested in legislation and the comings and goings in Washington, DC, there are several panels that are right for you. We have assembled a knowledgeable panel to keep you up to date on the latest trends in cable franchise agreements from around the country. If you’re facing an upcoming negotiation or if you just want to keep up on the latest trends, you won’t want to miss this panel. It discusses the kinds of things you can negotiate in your next franchise agreement.

  • ADA Compliance: Updates on the DOJ Rulings and Closed Captioning for Municipal Websites and PEG Channels 

Closed captioning is a hot topic. You might have to close caption all your municipal programs in the very near future. So, you won’t want to miss our panel on when and how to comply with the American’s with Disabilities Act. There’s a new initiative, not from the FCC, but from the Justice Department, that may compel you to act faster than you think.

  • Why PEG Stations Should Care About Broadband Deployment 

Finally, our luncheon program focuses on broadband and what it means for the future of the cable industry in general and the future of PEG distribution. This discussion focuses on the state of broadband deployment in New Jersey, and why you, as a JAG member/station operator should care about it. Learn about funds that might available from the grants that your municipality receives to cover the cost of over-the-top delivery of your station.

Programming and Management

  • Beyond Cable: New Ways to Communicate w/your Citizens 

If your interests go more towards programming and station management, we have workshops for you. The committee has assembled a group of station people to discuss new ways to reach your citizens.  If you have overall responsibility of communicating, motivating and inspiring your residents, you won’t want to miss this one.

  • How to Conduct a Great Interview: Interviewing Skills and Tips 

The key to much of the programming that we produce is getting great information from interview subjects. Once again, we will present a panel of professionals offering tips on interviewing techniques to help you hone your interviewing skills.

  • Understanding the Elements of Storytelling

Related to interviewing technique is the art of storytelling. How do you identify, research, shoot and edit a compelling story that is informative and entertaining. There are two Understanding the Elements of Storytelling sessions presented by seasoned professionals that can help you improve programming quality on your station. 

  • New Programming Ideas for PEG stations

Finally, many of our members have the responsibility of generating new and interesting programs that will keep viewers entertained and informed about their communities, but finding new ideas can be challenging. A panel of some of JAG’s more prolific program producers share their insight into where to find new stories in your community that you may have overlooked.


  • Closed Captioning – Easy Solutions and Cost Considerations to Make it Happen  

If you have interest in new developments in technology then there are panels for you too.  Perhaps you have heard about or attended a closed caption panel and now you have to figure out what you’re going to do when your town is required to comply. Here is a panel which will explain the options available to you, the pricing, and the technology that you can choose.

  • Less Gear and Better Production 

Are you tired of shlepping heavy lighting equipment around for location shoots, then don’t miss our panel on the latest trends in location lighting. Your back, legs, knees and shoulders will thank you.

  • Real-Time Video Updates and Information During Critical Situations

Finally, there is an important panel that discusses technology from LiveU that allows all PEG channels to easily interface with your Office of Emergency Management (OEM) when there is important information that must get to your residents immediately. In fact, you should consider inviting the people who run the OEM in your town. This free session is for all OEM, police and fire officials.

So, if you take all this interesting programming, the opportunity to speak with some of our valuable organizational partners, the chance to attend user groups, then add plenty of time to network with your colleague, you’ve got another exciting conference to look forward to.

Add the JAG Banquet and JAG Awards as your evening activity and there is a full day of information, networking, and entertainment.  Mark your calendars now: May 16 at the Crowne Plaza in Edition.

All of us on the committee hope you can attend.

Registration is now open at  Shop – JAG Conference

For more information, check out the conference tab on our website, jagonline.org/conference or log on to www.jagconference.com. Be sure to check back often to follow additions to the schedule. New events and sessions are being added all the time.

Call for Vendors

Booth size and event sponsors: Link to register: https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/ev/reg/889386h

Exhibitors include:

TelVue Corporation DeSisti

Varto Technologies LiveU

Cologna Productions JVC

NJ Film Commission Eiki

My Case Builder Swit

Thanks to our sponsors:


Titanium-Planet Networks

Platinum-Varto Technologies


Gold-Cologna Productions

DeSisti Lighting