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

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

by Dave Garb, Legislative Committee Chair

Last October the White House urged congressional appropriators to dedicate $6 billion to extend the ACP, or Affordable Connectivity Program through the end of 2024. The ACP allows about 23 million low-income households to receive discounts on their internet bills of up to $30 a month. Lawmakers and Federal Communications Commission officials have held numerous rallies calling for this program to receive a new round of appropriations from Congress.  If it does not receive this money, the existing funds would expire in the end of April as reported by FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, this past January. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), the ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said recently at an event to gather support for this program, “it’s going to be very detrimental to all these people that need internet access if the funding expires”.

A bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers unveiled a bill last month to re-up its funding (ACP Extension Act: HR-6929/S-3565). Now, key negotiators are pushing to tuck the measure into upcoming spending bills on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are racing to avert a possible shutdown.

From the New Jersey League of Municipalities:

The Assembly State and Local Government Committee is scheduled to consider A-4045, and the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee are considering an identical bill S2930, that change various rules to OPRA. These reforms to the Open Public Records Act address many of the issues municipalities have been experiencing since the inception of OPRA, including:

  • Implements recommendations of the Privacy Study Commission.
  • Provides residents with protections from losing their privacy in the course of conducting public business.
  • Addresses burdensome commercial requests that continue to increase each year. Since the enactment of the OPRA, commercial enterprises have abused the legislation as a mechanism for commercial purposes.
  • Addresses the mandatory prevailing attorney fee provisions that have cost taxpayers.
  • Takes the first step to address how police records should and are considered under OPRA.  As the use of technology has increased in police work, requests for police records have increased tremendously.
  • Permits public agencies to adopt an official OPRA request form that must be used for all OPRA requests.

The League is strongly in favor of these proposed changes and encourage you to reach out to your legislator to express municipal support for these bills. We will update this story as it progresses.

Please do not forget that the Protecting Community Television Act (HR 907/S 340) is still circulating in Congress.

From the ACM (Alliance for Community Media):

The FCC’s 2019 Franchise Fee Order redefined the federal Cable Act’s 5% franchise fee cap to include the value of most non-monetary franchise obligations as franchise fees. This change allows cable companies to reduce what they pay for the use of public property and rights-of-way. The Protecting Community Television Act (HR 907/S 340) would correct this error by simply clarifying that franchise fees are only monetary.

The Cable Act of 1984, protects the rights of a local community to charge cable companies a five (5%) percent franchise fee and to meet community needs and interests, such as providing public, educational and governmental channel capacity.

Contrary to industry practices that date back to the 1980s, the FCC’s actions could result in reducing cable operators’ monetary compensation to towns and municipalities that wish to communicate with residents through community television. The FCC Order could force communities to choose between franchise fees or communicating with residents through community media that provide Americans with local civic, public safety and public health content. 

The Protecting Community Television Act (HR 907/S 340) clarifies that only monetary payments, not non-monetary franchise obligations, qualify as Cable Act franchise fees and are subject to a fee cap. Without it, a cable operator could create fees to drain away municipal revenues and pressure municipalities to give up or de-staff channels.  

JAG constantly advocates, analyzes and addresses emerging issues in areas such as: Local Government Communications and Internet Policy.

JAG’s new video partner: Granicus

by Andrew Collinsworth, Account Executive, Granicus

Have you heard of Granicus? They’ve been serving government since being founded in 1999. Granicus helps organizations run more efficiently, effectively, and transparently. Their video streaming solutions make meetings accessible to the public, wherever they are and on their own devices.A person in a suit

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Granicus’ mobile-friendly, multi-channel video streaming solution lets viewers search for and skip ahead to any agenda item they want to view, without sitting through or fast forward through an entire meeting. Voice search, multi-lingual captioning and automated minutes are just some of the time savers that benefit both staff and the public. With industry-leading video quality, security and reliability not previously seen in the government meeting market, Granicus created a true industry revolution and continues to lead the way.

In 2022, Granicus acquired Swagit to continue the transformation of streaming video for government. Swagit’s EASE solution helps relieve the workload of overburdened government meeting managers and IT staff by allowing agencies to offload hosting to Swagit servers. EASE also includes agenda indexing—shifting that duty from government staff to the Swagit team, which saves staff resources and improves turnaround time from meeting to public posting of the polished video. 

Swagit’s AVIOR solution scales the EASE concept to an international level, outsourcing meeting streaming and recording for reliable, hands-off production. 

In addition to video hosting and indexing, the Swagit team uses multiple cameras and manages all production work including panning, camera switching, zooming and on-screen graphics. It’s all done remotely from their offices in Dallas, Texas. With AVIOR, government agencies recover valuable staff time, improve viewer experience, and can redirect taxpayer dollars toward core priorities, avoiding repetitive meeting work or troubleshooting technology during critical public meetings.  A group of people sitting in a room with computers

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The AVIOR solution has been successfully deployed in cities both large and small, including Yellowknife, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories. In the decade since its installation, Swagit AVIOR has been serving the remote Arctic city reliably and securely. Hundreds of jurisdictions across the U.S. and Canada rely entirely on the Swagit production team for video management, production and polishing. They don’t worry about staff coverage, technical problems, or low-quality video. 

The addition of Swagit maintains Granicus’ dedication to using video solutions to enhance government participation. Swagit’s functions complement Granicus’ industry-best closed captioning, transcription, spoken word search tools, as well as simultaneous multi-channel streaming capabilities, including social media platforms and cable access channels. These features, along with mobile device responsiveness, allow government agencies to reach viewers anywhere. A computer and camera next to a computer

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In the years since its founding, Granicus grew beyond video streaming and recording. The Granicus video solutions are part of a larger suite of products and services bringing digital solutions to governments managing meeting agenda creation, public record requests, board and committee staffing and servicing, website design and hosting, and public engagement. JAG’s partnership with Granicus evidences our ongoing commitment to transparency and quality in the services we provide. Tune in on Wednesday, March 27, and get to know our new video partner and the solutions we’re exploring.

President’s Message: March 2024 JAG Conference 2024 – Compelling Reasons To Be There On May 16th

by Bob Duthaler

Each year the Jersey Access Group holds its annual conference for not only its members, their staff and volunteer crews, but others outside the organization who are interested in local access television. Just because it’s an annual event, does not mean it is the same old event. In fact, quite to the contrary. The conference committee has worked hard on this year’s event to include new sessions, bring in outside professionals from our industry and work with vendors on presenting the latest equipment, technology and more.

This year we host a session called How to Conduct a Great Interview – Interviewing Skills and Tips. Have you ever wondered how to prepare properly for an interview?  How do you get the most out of your guest and avoid single word answers? Learn how to effectively listen, react, and ask the right questions—and the right time to ask them during an interview. Professional reporters from local channels in the New York/New Jersey market will guide you through the steps to help make your next interview your best interview.

Attention All Station Managers

We have designed a series of sessions just for you. These are designed to incorporate what you learned into your operations and station management. We will discuss various ways a municipality can communicate with their citizens beyond traditional cable television channels. The panel will explore and discuss new video trends in social media, live streaming and how access channels are entering the Over-the-Top (OTT) world with their own channels on Apple TV, Roku and more in our session titled Beyond Cable: New Ways to Communicate with your Citizens. This is just one of many you will find.

Tired of the same programs year after year? Is there content beyond town meetings and summer concerts? You’ll want to attend New Programming Ideas for PEG Stations. This panel gives you ideas for new programming opportunities to enhance your program schedule. Join fellow station managers who have found new stories to tell in their towns. Discover new sources of programming that you might have overlooked right in your own backyard.

I consider myself to be a technology geek. And I’m proud of it. I’m always interested in the latest gear and technology to make this job not only easier, but more exciting—technology that wakes the creative mind in each of us. That’s why I love the vendor floor with all the latest cameras, switcher technology, lighting, and live broadcasting options. 

But we don’t stop there. We have a session geared to those who love new technology and want to incorporate it into the everyday operations: Less Gear and Better Production. This session discusses how to streamline your workflow in the field by minimizing gear and optimizing production . This can significantly enhance efficiency and make work more manageable. We will discuss ways to prioritize essential equipment (cameras, audio and lighting kit), multifunctional tools (e.g., a smartphone with a high-quality camera can eliminate the need for a second camera in many situations). Invest time learning the ins and outs of your equipment to enable you to work more efficiently and troubleshoot issues quickly. By implementing these strategies, you can create a nimbler production workflow in the field. Discover the latest gear that makes it all possible.

JAG prides itself in keeping all our members up to date on legislative issues, news from Washington, DC and what is going on around the country. Don’t miss Understanding Franchising and What to Know When Renegotiating.  This session covers the main differences 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?  Nationally, what is being added or taken away in negotiated franchise agreements?  Franchise monies are declining due to streaming, what can we do during negotiations to curb this?  Bills being introduced around the country that are trying to force streamers to pay a per subscriber fee to municipalities. How is this going and if successful, what does that mean for the local access station?

This is just the tip of the iceberg for the 2024 JAG Conference. You will also have time to mingle with vendors, network with each other and industry professionals. We’ll have giveaways during the Vendor Cocktail Hour followed by our banquet and the 2024 JAG Awards. I urge you, your staff and volunteer crew to register now! Mark your calendar for Thursday, May 16 at the Crowne Plaza in Edison, NJ.  A group of people sitting at tables in a room

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Go to www.jagconfernce.com to register and get more information. If you have any issues that might prohibit you from attending this year’s JAG Conference, please reach out to me directly via email at bduthaler@jagonline.org to see if I can help you.

See you all at the 2024 JAG Conference!

Spotlight: Brookdale Television – JAG’s Own Wonder Woman

by Geoffrey Belinfante, External Relations Committee, Chair

Note:  This is usually a spotlight written by one of our JAG Members, however this article was written by Geoff Belinfante with input from Lauren Concar Sheehy.  Lauren is busy doing what Wonder Women do, but her story should be of interest to JAG members.

Lauren Concar Sheehy has been a JAG member for many years.  In fact, many moons ago, Lauren interned at Cablevision and has fond memories working with Dave Garb and the crew.  These days, she is a video production specialist at Brookdale Television with responsibility for the TV facilities at Brookdale Community College, along with Jennifer Yannibelli and Sergey Kornienko.  For well over two decades, the team has been producing, directing and editing television shows, providing real world experience to their students.

Brookdale Television (BTV) is a non-profit Educational Access Channel that can be viewed on Comcast Channel 21 and Verizon FIOS Channel 46 throughout central New Jersey, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. BTV’s mission is to present quality educational programs that inform and inspire viewers. While working at BTV is her full-time job, her passion for the last 22 years has been the Garden State Film Festival.  In fact, she is so busy preparing for this year’s festival that she has asked me to draft this article about her and the festival.  

In addition, Lauren is a filmmaker with a long, passionate history in the Television & Film industry. She has written, executive produced, directed & edited award-winning content for Bloomberg TV, SAG-AFTRA & other high-profile clients. Her latest feature, which she co-produced, Shelter in Solitude is out now on all platforms.

Sandwiched between her responsibilities at Brookdale, and her independent film making, this Wonder Woman and her team has worked tirelessly year after year to bring a first-class film festival to the Garden State, and this year will be no exception. 

From March 21-24, GSFF transforms Asbury Park and Cranford into a cinematic paradise, showcasing over 200 films from 14 countries in eight venues The festival is a celebration of diversity, creativity, and the art of storytelling, with a variety of films, both theatrical and documentary, engaging panels, live podcasts, and not-to-be-missed parties.  JAG members who have an interest in the production of films of all kinds will welcome a chance to meet and network with celebrities and professionals from all over the world right in our backyard. 

As usual, Lauren and her associates have assembled a diverse, informative and entertaining selection of feature films and documentaries. This year’s lineup boasts notable figures such as Matthew Modine, Carla Raij, Janice Kovach, Armand Assante, Lisa Eldelstein, Bridget Moynahan, Ed Begley Jr., and sports legends Louis Neglia and Joe Pyfer. The GSFF is a testament to New Jersey’s storied film history and as a hub for producers, directors, actors, investors, and industry talents.

One of the highlights of this year’s festival will be the screening of Don Q, a comedy crime thriller that features international star Armand Assante who will be on hand to discuss the film and answer questions from the audience. In addition, this year’s festival will feature screenings of a thriller called The Nanny; a comedy thriller called Don’t Tell Larry; and a documentary called Journey to the UFC about Joe Pyfer’s overcoming insurmountable odds to become a UFC fighter.

As with any good film festival there will be social events and lots of opportunities to network.  This year’s festival kicks off with a Meet the Filmmakers cocktail party on Thursday March 21st at the Asbury Hotel, and no good film festival would be complete without a red-carpet celebration… and the Garden State Film Festival is no exception.  On Friday March 22nd there will be a red-carpet premiere of the drama “The Martini Shot” starring Mathew Modine, John Cleese, Fiona Flascott, Derek Jacoby, and Stuart Townsend.

The festival culminates in an awards dinner on Sunday March 24th, with awards to the winning films, screenplay, and the best movie music. The festival also honors the Exceptional Woman of the Year which this year goes to New Jersey’s own Carla Raij, who worked with Steven Spielberg on the Fablemans and the Educator of the Year which goes to David Dilianni from Film Academy360.  Who knows, perhaps there are some future JAG members in the Student Television network that he represents.

Naturally, the festival includes feature films and documentaries shot right here in New Jersey, using our mountains, lakes, beaches, cities, farms and historic sites as background.  It’s always great to see locations you know on the big screen, or perhaps you or someone you know worked on these Jersey based productions.  There may even be some films that would be appropriate for exposure on our municipal channels.

Tickets for the Garden State Film Festival are available on-line at gsff.org and are reasonably priced with a variety of options, so I would urge all JAG members to consider supporting Lauren’s efforts to bring a bit of glamour to the Garden State. Congratulations to JAG member, Lauren Concar, award winning filmmaker, community activist and a tireless champion for the arts in New Jersey and to all of her associates who help assemble this incredible weekend of entertainment.  It’s always great to see a fellow JAG member work outside their traditional venue to create something of value to the entire State.

JAG Awards February 2024

by George Farfield, JAG Awards Committee Chair


Did your town have a concert?  Did your station record it?  How about a council meeting?  Did your town have a community event?  These are all great events you can enter in the JAG Awards.

Not sure what the categories are?  Here they are…surely you have something to enter.

101. Documentary

201. Instructional/Training

301. News Magazine

401. Talk Show

501. PSA: Public Service Announcement

601. Promotion

701. Sports Programming / Single Camera

801. Sports Programming / Multi-Camera

901. Public Meeting / Single Camera

1000. Public Meeting / Multi-Camera

1100. Public Ceremony / Single Camera

1200. Public Ceremony / Multi-Camera 

1300. Public Parade / Single Camera

1400. Public Parade / Multi-Camera

1500. Concert / Single Camera

1600. Concert /Multiple Camera

1700. Community Holiday Event

1800. Community Development Event

1900. Community Ground Breaking/Ribbon Cutting/Dedication

2000. Community Festival/Fair Event

2100. Community Award Presentation

Haven’t had time to get it together?  Don’t worry, many of us have not had the time.  Registration has been extended until February 16.  At least get that done.  Videos are not due until the end of February. We want to see your entry.  Enter the JAG Awards NOW!