President’s Message: February 2022
by Bob Duthaler
A Look Back At 2021 and Looking Forward To 2022
The best way to get a feel for what the future of an organization holds is to look at its past. With that thought in mind, I though it important to share with you the year end reports from some of our committees. I hope by reading these you will realize all the effort and hard work these committees have done all for the betterment of our members.
External Relations Committee Annual Report 2021
It was a very busy year for the External Relations Committee. Thanks to Doug Seidel, we really stepped up our marketing and image campaign on social media. In addition, we updated our website to improve both its graphics and functionality. We also added new videos of the presentations made during our monthly meetings; recordings of our webinars; and videos of the workshop we sponsored at the NJ League of Municipalities Conference. We also initiated an ongoing effort to add more documents to our library of reference material for our members.
For the first time in two years, there was an in-person League of Municipalities meeting and our booth was quite busy, perhaps because the pandemic has increased the need for townships to find new ways to engage their citizens. The Conference once again proved that it is the best chance we have each year to market JAG and the benefits of membership. The prospect for growth based on the interest exhibited at the conference is great.
The External Relations Committee, in conjunction with the Production Committee also added a YouTube Channel this year as another way to showcase the work done by our member stations. The channel was formally added to our list of member benefits.
We also have enhanced our monthly newsletter by soliciting monthly content from members and adding names to our distribution list. Doug and Rich have changed both the graphic look and the method of distribution that has increased readership and also resulted in increased traffic to our website. Rich has even developed a survey that will be distributed early in 2022 to give us some feedback on the re-invigorated newsletter.
Finally, while we are always in need of new members, this year the need is particularly acute. At the end of 2021, we bid farewell to Dustin Dumas, our vice-chairman, as she tends to her station and other responsibilities. Her input will be missed.
Leadership Development Committee (LDC)- Annual Report 2021
A Youtube Channel was created, with some “ video from AccessNJ. Those who
want to share their videos on this was invited to post their work, and it would be promoted.
An article about t his channel by Doug in the Newsletter and updates were done throughout
social media sites to get more people to subscribe to it. New Updated Website was
launched, thanks to Doug.
A new marketing plan is in the works and will hopefully be ready for 1st qtr. 2022.
LDC took on all of our P&P information (Mission Statement, Goals, Letters, etc.) and
recommended changes for the Executive Retreat in August.
Non Station Membership Category – Ramifications of Description Change:
This was for non station members to be allowed to become chairs./vice chairs. of
committees. After replies from our attorney Ken Fellman, it was decided that Non Station members will not be allowed to become chairs. or vice chairs. of committees at this time due to financial voting that effects
stations and not non station members.
External Relations Committee helped to develop the LDC Toolbox, Posted Toolbox to “Members Only” section of website, developed church letter written to encourage this market added technical documents to “Members Only” section of website.
Getting Links from Members stations up on our website. Membership helped create a new recognition award form was created and approved.
Legislative Committee Annual Report 2021
January: At the beginning of the year, PEG was waiting on the strong possibility that The Protecting Community Television Act will be re-introduced in the new Congress. The question was when/No-one knew!
March: The ramifications of the 621 Order have started to be felt. Charter, the cable provider in Rochester, NY, has invoked Order 621. It should not affect us here in New Jersey, but we kept an eye on it just in case. Altice had a BPU hearing about their State Refranchising. Bob presented JAG’s issues with them, as did many Mayors throughout the state. This gave finally to us, the contact person we have been so trying to find about our HD solutions.
April: Closed Captioning is being mentioned more and more. President Biden is a strong supporter for the ADA. Keeping an eye on it. it could become a sudden issue that everyone must comply. The Sixth District Court heard oral arguments on “621.” Portions of the Order were upheld, and a petition was filed to re-hear arguments in the 6th district court of appeals. (Still waiting on an answer)
July: From the 2021 Eastern Video Expo (Conference), “As the Lawyers” session: The committee had sent out questions to our members asking them “What did you during the pandemic that has made a difference?” All the answers will be notes and assimilated in to one document, which will be sent to legislators. The JAG Newsletter will begin to be sent to legislators.
September: 10 Responses had been received from the July question. A document to our elected officials was created using these answers.
November: In an effort to get JAG’s name out there to our politicians, this committee will begin to develop a plan to grow these relationships with federal, state and local elected officials. This may be done by contacting their local offices and set-up meetings with them – either in person or virtually.(To be ready 1st quarter 2022). Maine: enacted – Ensure Nondiscriminatory Treatment of Public, Educational and Governmental Access Channels by Cable System Operators. https://legislature.maine.gov/legis/bills/bills_129th/chapters/PUBLIC245.asp Committee will look over this bill and learn from it.
December: The Protecting Community Television Act: has finally been reintroduced in both house of Congress. The committee quickly rewrote the letter we had previously sent to our federal legislatures. We reflected the changes to the Act as well as reminding them of who we are and what we do and what we had done during the pandemic. Do to our efforts, Reps. Payne and Watson-Coleman have signed on to co-sponsor the bill. There is some interest from Reps. Norcross and Sherrill. Sen. Booker will also “take a look at it.” Finally, there is a new FCC Commissioner, Jessica Rosenworcel. Time will tell how this will help us and the 621 Order.
Finance Committee Annual Report 2021
All required Federal and State filings were done in 2021 for the year 2020. The Finance Committee also worked closely with the Membership Committee regarding dues collection and other items, to considerable success.
Again, as in 2020, expenses were down due to COVID-related circumstances. These include travel, hotel and conference fees for those events that were virtual once again this year rather than in-person. Therefore, for 2021 the Operating expenses were under budget.
Operating Income was $18,340 vs. expenses of $21,647.
JAG Awards income was $2,158.27 with expenses of $1,852.43. It was decided that in 2022, JAG Awards will have their own separate budget.
Conference income for 2021 was $21,934 versus expenses of $6,347. The Conference was completely virtual in 2021. (It should be noted that the annual Conference was not held in 2020 due to COVID; that said, there are operating expenses for Conference, regardless.)
Membership Committee Annual Report 2021
*Mount Zion Baptist Church in Newark our first nonprofit member in January.
*Geoff Belinfante and George Fairfield joined the committee
*Changed text to the members only section on the website to: “A MEMBERS ONLY area on the website that is password protected provides members contact information and valuable information on franchise agreements, legislative matters, and white papers on technical and social media topics.”
*In February, worked on fixing issues about getting on the JAG website.
*March the response to the members questionnaire was at 50%
*The Membership committee has been requested to have a representative to NATOA. There were no volunteers, with overload the main reason, it was resolved in the fall with Geoff Belinfante volunteering
*Rutgers Cooperative Extension questioned the value of JAG for their organization, it was resolved by them becoming a nonprofit member
*By April There are 29 PEG facilities renewed for 2021, with six PO’s. Three independent producer members have renewed and seven organizational. There are two nonprofit members.
*The Committee went over the newly created form to track Newsletter usage, ListServ usage and membership status in May
*The committee did a push to reach out to former members,
*Kenilworth, Highland Park and South River returned and Also we welcomed Fanwood Borough as a new member. New Independent Producer Patricia Dunn joined after attending the virtual conference in June
*The results of the member questionnaire resulted in members asking for these other benefits:
• More benefits for Independent Producers
• Resource database of JAG members who can help others with technology
• Place for reviews of products for vendor equipment and organizations
• Help with finding grants
• List of freelance production people throughout the state
• Help with the recruitment/retention of volunteers
• Successful engagement with local HS volunteers
*This list was brought to the Executive Board for discussion at this year’s Retreat.
*There was a need to develop a new letter to welcome back JAG members who had let their memberships lapse and then came back to join the organization in October, the letter was approved in Dec.
*George Fairfield was asked and accepted the nomination for committee vice chair, temporarily
*Outreach (Former Members): Rich Desimone met casually with a couple of elected officials in Metuchen, talked about JAG and had positive reaction. George Fairfield was asked to met with the Metuchen Cable Advisory Committee, where it was mentioned that a group of cable stations should be formed. George told them there is one, and it’s JAG!
*The chair will reach out to contacts made at the League. She and Geoff & Dave G will coordinate with people they spoke to.
*Develop a League follow-up letter, which will be based on the previous one and once approved will be added to the toolbox
*Independent Member Engagement: Stephanie has a possible new member in January. She will also reach out to George McCollough to see whether independent producers in Princeton could join.
Conference Committee Annual Report 2021
After much discussion, the executive board of JAG decided to move forward with a conference in 2021 after the conference in 2020 was cancelled outright because of the Covid 19 Pandemic. However, since the worldwide heath crisis was still ongoing, it was decided that the 2021 conference was to be held virtually, something none of us in JAG had ever done.
A conference committee was formed and under Bob Duthaler’s leadership, we began to plan an ambitious program that included a limited virtual trade show, workshops and even a virtual live presentation of our annual JAG awards. Needless to say, there were some technical issues to be solved and with the help of a Zoom sales person and Doug Seidel, a framework for the conference was established, a website launched and a marketing campaign developed to tell people about the conference.
Bob hosted the entire conference from the studio in Bloomfield and he help attendees understand the flow of the conference by promoting upcoming events. The virtual nature of the conference allowed the committee to put together workshops that included people from all over the world, something that would not have been possible with a live conference. Production panels featured accomplished journalists, editors, writers, composers and producers from as far away as Great Britain. Conference and trade show support came from sponsors like Telvue Corporation, Varto Technologies, and Cablecast, with informative presentations and user group meeting from those companies and others during the conference. All workshops and presentations were recorded a posted in the members-only section of our Website.
Perhaps the highlight of the entire three-day event was the live presentation of our JAG awards thanks to George Fairfield and the staff at Piscataway TV. Congratulations to the award winners.
The entire event was both a creative and financial success thanks to the committee and the extraordinary efforts of Doug, George and Bob to coordinate the various events and produce them flawlessly.
As you can tell by all the information that each of these committees presented to our membership, they were active all year long. This year, these committees are committed to providing even more for the benefit of our members. It is important to point out, that these committees cannot do what they do without the support of our members. I urge all members to find a committee that they have some interest in, and spend a few hours each year participating.