by Gary Campbell, Station Manager/Producer, Newark TV
In today’s competitive television, cable and streaming market, government-access television Newark TV-78 is producing high quality content for the largest city in New Jersey–Newark. Newark continues to shine in public safety, affordable housing, the arts, equitable growth and empowering residents. Mayor Ras Baraka says that in 2023 we are finally experiencing the Newark Renaissance that has been in motion for over fifty years, and TV78 has been there to help the city achieve its goals.
We strive to achieve consistently high-quality content with every production. In this context, we are referring to visual, audio or video created and made available through a particular channel(s) as programming that appeals to a large percentage of Newark residents. Behind the renaissance at TV-78 the Newark access channel are the talented people at Cologna Productions. Under contract from the city, Cologna Productions has been running the station for nine years. Initially it was a one-man operation run by Ed Cologna alone; today, the production company now has a staff of 6 employees and covers over 250 events annually. The channel not only covers city council meetings and local emergency announcements, but many other events and programs which have become very important in to the content hungry residents of Newark. This programming is provided 365 days and 24 hours a day.
The diligent work has allowed TV-78 to receive many awards throughout the years and 15 awards in 2022 alone. This trend will hopefully continue in 2023 when we may be considered for an Emmy Award.
Our current programming lineup includes Ras in 60, led by host, Mayor Ras J. Baraka and co-host Desiree Hadley. Ras in 60 provides conversations about Newark’s community, economic development and more. Recently, the show has featured the American rap group The Sugar Hill Gang, best known for its hit single “Rapper’s Delight”, …what a treat!
Overall, TV-78 has been successful because of its focus on quality videography while responding to the particular needs of the Mayor’s initiatives. The Mayor has masterfully gone past just a boring access channel to clearly convey the intentions and progress of the administration. Under his reading initiatives there is programming provided such as “Launch of 1,000 Books before Kindergarten”, “ Literacy Conversation with Dr. Brown,” “Mayor’s Book Club” and “Soar with Reading” held at various schools and libraries throughout Newark. The Arts are also important to the Mayor’s vision for the city. In the past year, we have covered events like Newark mural unveilings and the Newark Arts Festival. In addition, Great Point Studios and NJPAC partner have partnered with LionsGate to present Down in the Ro, a Great Day in Newark and many other events. Annual TV events include 24 Hours of Peace, Latin Festival, Fashion Forward, Lincoln Park Festival, LQBQT events and flag raising, the Senior White Affair and many others. We also cover events that concern the public safety of our citizens, OVPTR events, Newark Peace Week, Woman’s Empowerment, Men’s Meeting, Women’s Meeting, Prayer Walk against Violence and National Night out. In addition, we have documented events that honor the following members of the Newark community: ethnic groups from Nigeria, Italy, Mexico, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cape Verde, Barbados and others by having their flag raisings recorded for TV. The station is now working on new shows, including “Out Loud”, “Caribbean Commission” and “Scooter Stories” along with others, and this list is growing, so stay tuned!
How is all this accomplished? In a two floor studio located in the Central Ward of Newark that includes seven rooms, two edit bays, four computer work stations, programming room, equipment room and green room. However, I must add that Cologna Productions has a bunch of creative people that love the City of Newark and love creating quality content. We look forward to growing and creating more content to serve the diverse citizens of Newark.
On January 19th, the 5th Circuit Appellate Court tried to decide if it should toss out a ruling that upholds the Federal Communications Commission’s Universal Service Fund. The judges expressed their objections about the constitutionality of the practice of using an outside company to collect fees for the telecom assistance programs.
The USF was originally designed by having interstate long distance carriers appraised in order to subsidize telephone service to low-income households and high-cost areas. In 1996, the Telecommunications Act expanded this definition to include among other things rural health care providers and eligible schools and libraries.
But litigants have been challenging this fund in different circuits throughout the country as they have argued that this program is an unlawful authorization to the FCC by Congress’ own taxing power.
Last March, the 5th Courtupheld the FCC’s authority totally, though in June they agreed to rehear the litigation.
During the September proceeding, the court seemed concerned by the way the fund was currently set-up. According to the figures in the court documents the USF seems to have grown to around $7 billion in 2020, from just over $1 billion in the mid-1990s.
An attorney for the FCC told the court that the FCC’s universal service definition has been extended over the years to cover new technologies, while accounting for the growth of the program, as directed by regulation.
Though he did not provide thoughts on what it might cover in the future, the attorney went on to say that; ”There are many different ways that people communicate these days”. “But the key point in the case, is that Congress gave the FCC the clear legal authority to set up the universal service system.
Back in March, this was the crucial point that guided the Fifth Circuit court decision to uphold their authority. They held that Congress had properly limited the commission’s revenue-raising activity while adequately providing the FCC with “intelligible principles” to guide the fund’s administration.
Reform discussions are currently being held in a U.S. Senate working group. Their objective is to expand the revenue stream to go further than the interstate telecoms. They are looking to have it include all Broadband Internet Access Services in order to fund the Universal Service Fund programs.
FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel Proposes to Restore Net Neutrality Rules and Authority Over Broadband Providers Under Title II
From the Office of Chairwoman Rosenworcel – Sept. 26, 2023:
The internet is too important to our society and economy not to have effective oversight. However, in 2018, the FCC abdicated its authority over broadband and repealed net neutrality. Today, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel shared with her colleagues a proposal that would begin the process of re-establishing the FCC’s oversight over broadband and restoring uniform, nationwide net neutrality rules, which would allow the FCC to protect internet openness and consumers, defend national security, and advance public safety.
The Chairwoman is proposing the FCC take the first procedural steps toward reaffirming rules that would treat broadband internet service as an essential service for American life. As work, healthcare, education, commerce, and so much more have moved online, no American household or business should need to function without reliable internet service. This was especially true during the pandemic. Such rules would affirm—under Title II of the Communications Act—that broadband service is on par with water, power, and phone service; that is essential.
The proposed rules would return fixed and mobile broadband service to its status as an essential “telecommunications” service. The proposal will be made public and will allow for public input. The proposal seeks to largely return to the successful rules the Commission adopted in 2015.
How It Helps Consumers ?
Openness – Establish basic rules for Internet Service Providers that prevent them from blocking legal content, throttling your speeds, and creating fast lanes that favor those who can pay for access.
Security – Reclassify broadband internet access to give the FCC and its national security partners the tools needed to defend our networks from potential security threats.
Safety – Allow the FCC to enhance the resiliency of broadband networks and bolster efforts to require providers to notify the FCC and consumers of internet outages.
Nationwide Standard – Establish a uniform national standard rather than a patchwork of state-by-state approaches, benefiting consumers and Internet Service Providers.
To hear the entirety of FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel’s remarks from the National Press Club on September 26, 2023, please visit the link below.
Comments on Safeguarding and Securing the Open Internet Sought by the FCC
In order to re-establish the FCC’s oversight over broadband and restoring uniform, nationwide net neutrality rules, the FCC has also put forth a notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comments for safeguarding and securing the Open Internet.
Public Notice – WC Docket No. 23-320:
On September 28, 2023, the FCC released a public draft of its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment on proposed rules for safeguarding and securing the open Internet, which is planned for vote at the FCC’s open meeting on October 19, 2023. The proposed draft would reestablish the Commission’s authority over broadband Internet access service (BIAS) by classifying it as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. There is currently no expert agency ensuring that the Internet is fast, open, and fair.
The draft NPRM proposes that the FCC take the first procedural steps toward reaffirming rules that would treat broadband internet service as an essential service for American life. As work, healthcare, education, commerce, and so much more have moved online, no American household or business should need to function without reliable internet service. This was especially true during the pandemic. Such rules would affirm—under Title II of the Communications Act—that broadband service is on par with water, power, and phone service; that is essential. More facts are listed in the fact sheet linked below.
Regarding accessibility for individuals with disabilities, the draft seeks comment on how the proposed reclassification of BIAS would affect:
The availability and performance of IP-based telecommunications relay services (TRS);
The FCC’s authority to ensure that individuals with disabilities can communicate using IP-based services such as video communications and electronic messaging services, IP equipment, and mobile browsers;
The requirement that Internet service providers (ISPs) comply with certain sections of the Communications Act (Sections 225, 255, and 251(a)(2)), and associated FCC rules, which advance access for persons with disabilities, and the Commission’s proposal to forbear from (that is, refrain from) applying TRS Fund contribution requirements;
Past analyses and conclusions that the Communications Act, as amended by the 21st Century Video and Communications Accessibility Act (CVAA), provides the FCC with authority to ensure that consumers with disabilities can access broadband networks regardless of whether BIAS is classified as telecommunications service or information service.
Emergency communications and public safety of persons with disabilities by preventing the degradation of latency-sensitive and data-intensive applications;
IP-based home health monitoring systems and other connected systems for individuals with disabilities;
The implementation and enforcement of other laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, designed to protect individuals with disabilities.
The draft NPRM also asks about the accessibility of ISPs’ website disclosures. Are more requirements needed to ensure accessibility? Should ISPs be encouraged to use the Web Accessibility Initiative guidance?
The comment and reply comment dates are proposed to be December 14, 2023 and January 17, 2024. More information about the filing procedures will be sent out through an AccessInfo after the draft is considered at the October open meeting.
by Bill Bennett, Media Solutions & Accounts Manager
Your municipality’s broadcasts are key to informing your residents about what matters in their community, and ENCO has products that make your content more accessible to a broader audience with economical, automated Closed Captions and in-room CART displays. We can also help make your productions and playout more reliable via our acquisition of RUSHWORKS, a world-class computer-based video production and playout maker. All this is available via a single, consolidated package with unified US-based support.
You probably know Closed Captions bring meeting accessibility for people with hearing loss, helping them to access and understand video content. This includes people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have auditory processing challenges. They also improve comprehension for everyone, as many people like to watch captions even though they can clearly hear the words as captions help confirm what they think they heard. And with as many technical and legal matters as your meetings often have, viewers may learn better how to spell the words too.
These days captions are for more than just inserting into a broadcast signal, they can also be viewed on large video screens inside your meeting room (often called CART: Continuous Access Realtime Translation), and can be viewed live on websites too. Plus, ENCO’s enCaption platform also saves everything it captions to plain-text transcripts and sidecar files (used for video editing or subsequent playout).
Transcripts are essential in any meeting environment, they are helpful to back up whatever minutes your secretary may be drafting, and can help them review and confirm what was said later on, to help ensure their own accuracy. Further, since the transcripts are time-coded, you can easily find exactly where in a captioned, recorded video certain words were mentioned, which helps everyone find what they need more quickly.
ENCO’s enCaption system is entirely on-prem, meaning no Internet is needed for operation. And it supports customizable word libraries where you can add presenter names, jargon, and other uniquely spelled words. Plus, once you use ENCO enCaption, you have the base for ENCO enTranslate – it’s live, real-time translation system. Just imagine – your viewers can see English captions on one CC channel, and another language on another. Talk about access for all!
We also have our new RUSHWORKS computer-based video production and playout software applications, designed to enable simple, live multi-camera meetings with an intuitive user interface (capable of both automatic and manual camera switching), as well as software made for multi-channel cable and stream channel programming, where you can build automated and live playlists for weeks in advance, with fail-safes to always make sure something is on the air. Media technology keeps evolving, so when you can find a single vendor to support all your meeting production, broadcast and accessibility needs, the sooner you’ll be on your way to a reliable, accessible broadcast network. ENCO will do a presentation at the next JAG General (ZOOM) Meeting, Dec. 13, 2023 at 12 Noon.
It is now officially the start of the Holiday Season, starting with Thanksgiving just ending. This also means there are just slightly more than 30 days until the new year starts. Every year at my house, the kids get ready to celebrate Christmas and they start working on their Christmas List, although as they get older the gifts become more expensive! The same can be said for running your station or JAG as an organization.
What would be on your list this year for your station? There is no wrong answer in this situation. Each station operates differently from others across the state and stations have different needs. Each has the same core principle, to inform the community which they serve. When you make your wish list, keep in mind your community and their needs and how, as a station, you can serve them.
As most of you know, I have always been a tech head! I love new and exciting things that come along and can help our industry. I love to play around with these items, demo them, beta test and give valuable feedback on how they would fit in with my station operations and how to best serve my community. This is also why I look forward to our conference each year, so I can see the latest and learn about upgrades (FYI… Conference for 2024 is Thursday, May 16th). With that in mind, I am going to share with you a few items that are on my wish list for this holiday season. Now these may not be your needs but let these act as a guide or talking point for your station.
Closed Captioning – this seems to be the number one item on the list this year. There has been talk about this for years, but for me and others, it is turned to a “now” situation. Recently, there have been new regulations for websites and video on websites and how they must be ADA compliant and contain closed captioning. Building on that new requirement, now is the time to get a closed captioning plan in place. You can start slowly or go all in. Maybe you just want to get closed captioning for all your VOD that lives on your website. Do you stream live on your website? If so, then you need to add in a live-streaming closed captioning plan. That same live-streaming plan will also serve your needs for your broadcast as well. I would suggest you start your research now, determine a plan that suits both your current and future needs, and then reach out to vendors who support JAG for more information and costs. I believe this to be our number one topic to tackle in 2024.
OTT and The Cord Cutters – Cable is at the heart of our operation and broadcast source, but there are new viewing trends and these need to be met as well. There is much evidence that indicating that at the end of 2023 more people will watch live streaming video than cable. People no longer tune in at “7pm” to watch a particular program. Our lives are busier now than they were years ago, running in different directions with family activities, volunteering, exercise and more. We are now more than ever an “on-demand” society, wanting to consume video when we want, and how we want. This is why it is important to establish an online presence in social media. People tend to turn to their mobile devices first, so you need to make sure you stay on their radar. **NOTE: This is a good time (when you are done reading my article naturally) to watch on the JAG website my presentation at the League of Municipalities 2023 Conference. Since viewing habits have changed, binge watching programs and sources have become the new norm. We must continue to be part of that source and get our station and programs out to those individuals. Over-The-Top (OTT) devices like ROKU, Apple TV and Fire Stick are some examples of those sources of content distribution. This is why we feel it is important to be part of that as well. My station in Bloomfield can now be found on ROKU, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire, in addition we have both an iOS App and Android App for view on tablets and phones. We began our soft launch in 2023 and we plan to announce and market this further in 2024.
Enhancing Your Stations Look – This can be done by making purchases of new equipment, add-ons and other items that can help you technically achieve this, but there is another way as well. Sometimes all it takes is a little more time and effort. One of easiest ways and places to start is with your bulletin board. We all have them, and we all use them. Sometimes this is the first thing that gets neglected. By making a few simple changes you can make a difference that will have a big impact on the look of the station. Start by taking a little more time in creating quality graphics. You will be surprised what a difference this makes. In addition, you may need to recreate graphics you receive from outside sources or departments. These typically are created for handouts or posters, and not television. They usually contain small font that is difficult to read on TV, not properly formatted for optimal television viewing. This is where you come in to correct this, create a better version and then “train” those who create these to give you a TV version for the future. If you are not doing it already, you should also have music as background for your bulletin board. Why not take it a step further and create multiple music selections and even holiday music as well. Another step you can take is taking your productions to the next level. When covering an event, get lots of b-roll, and when you think you have enough, get more. One thing I always tell my camera people is that you can never have too much b-roll. Get creative with both your shots during events and during the editing process assembling the footage together. Quick, tight editing, editing to the beat of your background music and the use of creative graphics take your production to the next level. This will ultimately end with more viewing of video both online and on-air. Putting in the extra effort will pay dividends in the long run.
Let these few items I mentioned be the start of a discussion at your station and township of where you want to see your station move forward. Some of you may want the same thing, some may want something different, and others may just be trying to find solutions within their budget. It does not matter what path you take next; the important thing is to have a plan in mind, get that information out to your viewers and keep engaging them as well. It will be at that point when you find that wishes do come true! I wish your station, your family and yourself all the best during this Holiday Season. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions you might have as I am always willing to share my thoughts and experiences: firstname.lastname@example.org .
New Ways You Can Communicate With Your Citizens Beyond the Traditional Cable Television Channels!
The New Jersey League of Municipalities will be holding their 2023 Annual Conference in Atlantic City, November 14th through the 16th.
JAG will be joining forces with the League to present two timely sessions on broadband that will not only be of interest but a must for you to know about to help you steer you through its deployment.
*Follow the Money – The Sequel*, will guide you through the federal funding that is available to ensure broadband access. Billions of dollars have begun to flow to the states for distribution. This panel will explore the status of NJ’s broadband deployment program, how municipalities can access the money, and what to do with it once it arrives at the local level.
Bob Duthaler – President, JAG & Station Manager, Bloomfield Township
Joseph Rivera – Manager, Broadband Access, NJ Board of Public Utilities
Brian C. Wahler – Mayor, Piscataway Township – Past President, NJLM
Nancy Werner, Esq., Partner, Bradley Werner, LLC
This session will occur on Wednesday, November 15th at the Atlantic City Convention Center-Room 413 at 10:45AM.
*Using Existing Infrastructure to Enhance Broadband Deployment*. Here you will learn how utilities and municipalities can work together to accelerate broadband deployment for their communities. Discover strategies, options, and real-world success stories, and learn about the legislative efforts that could assist or hinder these goals.(HR 3557)
Our panelists for this session will be:
Robert Boyle – CEO, Planet Networks
Edward Purcell, Esq., Attorney, Price Meese Shulman and D’Arminio
Brian C. Wahler – Mayor, Piscataway Township – Past President, NJLM
Nancy Werner, Esq., Partner, Bradley Werner, LLC
This session will take place on Thursday, November 16th in Room 315 at 9AM
*Municipal Television: It’s Not Just Cable Anymore* In addition to these broadband sessions, JAG will also be hosting a special discussion for those interested in Local Access Television. In this lively forum you will explore the various ways a municipality can communicate with their citizens beyond the traditional cable television channels.
Our panelists for this informative session will be:
Geoff Belinfante – TV Commissioner, WM-77 West Milford Township
Bob Duthaler – President, JAG & Station Manager, Bloomfield Township
Gina Forbes – Station Manager, Woodbridge Television
Joe Fernandes – Assistant Manager, Woodbridge Television
This session will take place on Thursday, November 16th in Room 409 at 10:45AM
JAG is proud to present these forums to you because as the league has stated, strong municipalities are built on a foundation of cooperation, creativity, and community outreach.
JAG is that an organization that believes in these simple concepts. JAG constantly advocates, analyzes and addresses emerging issues in areas such as: Local Government Communications and Internet Policy, New Technology Initiatives and Advancements, Cable Franchising and, the Operation of Public, Education and Government Media Facilities.
Please join us and see how we can prepare you for the broadband transformation and also help you to communicate better with your specific audience.
Federal funding is available to ensure broadband access. Billions of dollars have begun to flow to the states for distribution. This panel will explore the status of NJ’s broadband deployment program, how municipalities can access the money, and what to do with it once it arrives at the local level.
Panelists: Robert Boyle, CEO, Planet Networks, Valarry Bullard, Transparency Officer & Broadband Advisor, Governor’s Office of Disaster Recovery, Bob Duthaler, President, JAG Station Manager, Bloomfield Township, Joseph Rivera, Manager, Broadband Access, NJ Board of Public Utilities, Kenneth Fellman, Esq., Of Counsel, Helmer, Conley and Kasselman, P.A.
November 16, 2023
Using Existing Infrastructure to Enhance Broadband Deployment
(Joint Session with the NJ League)
9:00 AM-10:15 AM
Learn how utilities and municipalities can work together to accelerate broadband deployment for their communities. Discover strategies, options, and real-world success stories, and learn about the legislative efforts that could assist or hinder these goals.
Panelists: Edward Purcell, Esq., Attorney, Price Meese Shulman and D’Arminio, Robert Boyle, CEO, Planet Networks, Kenneth Fellman, Esq., Of Counsel, Helmer, Conley and Kasselman, P.A.
November 16, 2023
Municipal Television: It’s Not Just Cable Anymore
10:45 AM-12:00 PM
This panel will explore the various ways a municipality can communicate with their citizens beyond traditional cable television channels. Panelists: Geoff Belinfante, TV Commissioner, WM-77, West Milford Township, Bob Duthaler, President, JAG, Station Manager, Bloomfield Township, Gina Forbes, Station Manager, Woodbridge Television, Joe Fernandes, Assistant Manager, Woodbridge Television.
New York City has a step-brother, and it’s called Newark. The locals call it “Nork.” Newark is New Jersey’s largest city by population, known for its vibrant arts scene and one of America’s oldest. It was founded in 1666 by Connecticut Puritans and led by Robert Treat.
Newark was known for being the theater capital of the USA long before Broadway, NYC. It was the home to Thomas Edison’s Invention Factory (now a parking lot, which speaks volumes about American culture or its lack thereof). It boasts a park similar to Central Park by the same designer, gave us the first pressed record factory, and served as the former home and sometimes birthplace to celebrities like Sarah Vaughan, the Ballantine’s, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael B. Jordan, Queen Latifah, Whitney Houston, Joe Pesci, Jerry Lewis, Amiri Baraka, Paul Simon, and the birthplace of yours truly.
Newark TV is located in the same building as historic Symphony Hall.
Newark and its Broadcasting History
One detail to mention is that this building is important to the history of American Television. At some point in the early 1960s, WNJU-TV signed on from Newark as the New York City market’s first commercial UHF station, channel 47. It carried a format of ethnic programming. Pete Seeger hosted an early folk music program called “Rainbow Quest,” and a live teenage dance show aired from WNJU called “Disc-O-Teen.” The station also created some controversy early on by airing bullfights.
My First Visit to Newark TV
My first brush with this location came before I was born when my mother, Nella Zadra, a talented painter and muralist, was pregnant with me. She designed the set for an opera, “Francesca Di Rimini,” which premiered on the main stage of Symphony Hall in 1966.
Fate would have it that many years later, I would find myself working there. On a stormy winter blizzard morning in 2014, due to personnel issues, Newark’s PEG TV Station was unable to post emergency announcements about the snowstorm. I had no political connections to Newark, only a reputation for helping JAG stations such as Edison and Roselle TV. I drove through the snow to Symphony Hall in Newark, where the station exists, and did what I could to get announcements running. Upon examining the broadcast schedule, I noticed that the programming was minimal: a weekly news magazine about the city with excerpts of events, a few street dedications, and council meetings. It was unimpressive for a city of this stature. If you can imagine, Newark TV was still recording and broadcasting programming in a 4×3 aspect ratio.
In 2007, the city of Newark invested a lot of funds in building a beautiful TV Studio. Light grid with DeSisti components, two acoustically treated edit rooms, a large conference room, green room and a large office for the station manager that would impress visitors. At a first glance, this looked like PEG heaven: until you realized there was not a staging area for equipment, lights and only two tall storage cabinets in a machine room. Newark TV was designed by someone who didn’t know anything about the day-to-day operation of a PEG Station. It looked pretty, but it wasn’t practical. There was no makeup room, the kitchen had no stove, the green room was tiny, etc. And last but not least, the city spent $850,000 that year on video equipment for the studio. All of it Standard Definition, without a plan for upgrades. For those who do not know, HD had already been in ubiquitous use by that year. I compare that to buying a horse and buggy when you can get a car.
Seven years later, although it was a temporary solution, I embraced the challenge to improve the operation almost overnight. To me, it was a canvas, and my cameras were my brushes. I didn’t ask for permission regarding what I could or couldn’t do. I brought my own cameras and editing computers, plus invested in more of them out of pocket. I started asking around what events were taking place throughout the city and if I could show up and record them; I did. At the time, Mayor Quintana was the first Latino Mayor of Newark, and he was too preoccupied with running this behemoth of a city with thousands of employees to worry about what was happening at the TV station. But the administration soon took notice.
Most field events prior to me were recorded and edited with a single camera and were not posted on social media. Soon, I increased to three-camera productions in 16×9 HD, posting the HD files on social media and then broadcasting the 16×9 content squeezed to a 4×3 form factor for Cablevisión (now Altice) and FiOs.
In a matter of days, I reduced bulletin board time from 20 hours a day to almost zero. Instead of bulletin board static slides, I created video PSA’s. I went from 4 hours of programming a day to 24/7 original content. At first, I repeated programming in blocks, similar to how the Discovery Channel did in the 1990s. As I increased the original programming with events, so did the requests to cover more and more events from all city departments. I could no longer be a one-man band if I wanted the operation to be sustainable. At the time, I raced between Edison TV as a full-time job with flexible hours (always to my monetary detriment) and this new project. This stint at Newark TV was temporary. After six months, the personnel issues were resolved, and the person in charge prior to me got their job back. I thought my time with Newark TV was done. It wasn’t.
Newark TV, a Second Chance
Soon after Mayor Ras Baraka was elected, his press office called me in to take the helm once again. To my disappointment, all the changes I implemented the year before were undone. Little to no programming was on the air, everything went back to 4×3, and the bulletin board returned. This was in March of 2015. Now, more secure in this position, I hit the ground running and hired an editor, Armin, to help keep up with the pace of post-production. For a while, this seemed to work. Then I added a still photographer turned videographer who could also help coordinate. As he learned the craft, Gary Campbell became my right-hand man. At Newark TV, we work to provide all kinds of productions and support to every department of the city. From the Administration that produces the State of the City at NJPAC, to interesting events such as parades and music festivals and even special coverage for events like the 24 Hours of Peace. Newark keeps us busy.
Newark in the National Headlines and the Lead Crisis
In 2014 Flint, Michigan was in the eyes of the media because of a horrendous water crisis caused by mismanagement of their water supply. This caused illness and retardation in many people, with the depths still unfolding. In 2017, the National Media focused on Newark because the EPA had detected high levels of lead in a few of its schools. Mayor Baraka took this challenge head-on. While the media, even liberal outlets like Democracy Now, were reporting this bad situation and pointing fingers at Mayor Baraka, it was Newark TV that was there showing what the city was doing to address the problem: how to get home water tested for lead, where residents could pick up lead-removing water filters and free bottled water, and reported on the constant progress of replacing the lead service line to all the homes in the city. A monumental task that was done effectively and economically by a Mayor that was told it was impossible to do. The goal of some entities was to take over and privatize Newark’s water. Not under this Mayor’s watch.
Newark TV and the Covid-19 Pandemic
No sooner was this situation almost fully solved that the Covid-19 pandemic began. Mayor Baraka began broadcasting on Newark TV daily updates during the lockdown. My team and I were there to report about rapid and PCR testing, how residents without addresses were being cared for, and all the reporting of daily contagions and deaths from what was an unknown situation that evolved daily.
When the pandemic was over, in addition to the ongoing bi-weekly COVID updates we resumed coverage of the fun events such as the MTV VMA’s Red Carpet at the Prudential Center, public forums, consent decrees, art events at the Newark Museum and Library, ribbon cuttings and press conferences.
Newark has had a separate vendor to cover their Council Meetings, but that doesn’t mean we don’t help each other whenever needed. The Tidwell’s, as I know them or ITM Gospel, which is their company, have been serving Newark’s City Council long before I even knew of Newark TV’s existence, and they are an institution more than a production company. Working together, we have more strength. Teamwork makes the dream work.
Mayor Baraka proved his mettle during the pandemic. My team and I decided to think of ways to provide more services to other towns. So we came up with the GovTV platform, and in New Jersey, it is called NJGOVTV. At this year’s NJLM trade show, my team and I will have a booth and talk about this.
My Team at Newark TV and Other TV Stations
At Newark TV, we have four full-timers, and we pull from Cologna Productions, many part-timers that help in every capacity because we serve Newark and other TV stations throughout New Jersey. We aim to grow bigger. An author and artist in his own right, Gary Campbell now keeps the madness in check, and we work together to make sure every request within reason is fulfilled. (Check out “The Artist Recreates the World” if you can. That’s his pet project.) Directing Editor Charles Baraff is beyond an editor. He has a vision for when productions take place and has wise advice to allow for creative turnarounds. Amira Richardson is a field producer who can host like the best in a pinch and helps in every aspect of the operation. On the part-time side, I have some superstars from the corporate and broadcast world, such as Thomas Terreri, former President of Prudential Productions, who substitutes in my place occasionally; Ting Yin, who graduated with a Master’s degree in Digital Media from Northeastern University in Boston, has been helping the operation since 2016; Lauren Downs comes from SVA and has been with me for over 10 years; Julia D. is an Art Director and an artist who graduated from FIT; Zhenzhen Luo is a Rutgers Master’s Graduate and fills in the gaps at various productions, and I could go on. For a while, we had other talents helping, such as field producer Chris Rog, Armin, Juwaan, and last but not least, Doug Seidel, who now works at PCTC. I leave other station managers reading this article with this thought. There is a saying that goes, “Your business is only as strong as your weakest link.” True, but to that, I add we are human, and we all have weak moments. What matters is that in those times of weakness, the person next to you pulls you up and keeps the operation going. Pick passionate people, not people who are only in this as a job or are going through the motions. They have to love what they do. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.
Eddy Edward Cologna is a very early member of the JAG family, and a strong advocate for community media.
This past June, a newsletter was sent to inform you of a bill that was passed out of the Congressional House Energy and Commerce Committee, titled the American Broadband Deployment Act of 2023(H.R. 3557). JAG, along with our national partners, believe this bill would be a serious detriment to every municipality in our state.
We have learned at the end of September that the Committee’s Majority leadership has shared a draft committee report to go along with H.R. 3557. This is typically the next step in the process for bills going to the Rules Committee and eventually the House floor sooner, not later.
From NATOA – National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors – 9/28/23:
On behalf of the nation’s counties, cities, towns and villages, the National League of Cities (NLC), United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) have signed a joint letter (attached) “to express our deep concerns and strong opposition to H.R. 3557, the American Broadband Deployment Act of 2023. H.R. 3557 deprives citizens and their local governments of the ability to preserve property rights and maintain public safety.”
As it stands, it’s a good assumption that the plans to move H.R. 3557 to the floor for a vote of the full House in very short order…..days, not weeks.
Last Spring, the E&C’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee held a hearing on a slew of individual bills – many of them attacking local authority- without notice and/or local government input. Ultimately, the 19 bills were rolled up into H.R. 3557 and packaged as the American Broadband Deployment Act of 2023.
H.R. 3557 quickly passed through the Subcommittee and the Energy & Commerce Committee in short order and along partisan lines. At that point, H.R. 3557 was referred to both the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Committee on Natural Resources for further action. Presumably, both Committees are now ‘waiving’ jurisdiction which allows for the bill to move through the Rules Committee.
H.R. 3557, the American Broadband Act of 2023, would preempt local authority to manage our public rights-of-way and public lands’ use for telecommunications infrastructure. It also preempts local rights of way and franchise authority in a ‘giveaway’ to cable and telecommunications providers.
City, county, town and local governments should call their members of Congress and urge them to oppose H.R. 3557. This step is particularly important in communities where the incumbent is vulnerable, or your Representative is a former local elected official.
H.R. 3557 represents an unprecedented and dangerous usurpation of local governments’ authority to manage public rights-of-way and land use. The bill favors cable, wireless and telecommunications providers. The bill also waives historic preservation (NHPA) and environmental (NEPA) rules.
In return for these gifts, the bill imposes no obligations on cable, wireless and telecommunications companies to provide broadband to “unserved” and “underserved” Americans.
For local governments, it is troubling that the bill was reported out of Committee without any opportunity to hear from local government to explain not only why this legislation is not needed but how it will result in harmful preemptions and unconstitutional takings.
Local government members of the National Association of Counties (NACo), the National League of Cities (NLC), the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA), oppose heavy-handed federal overreach into local land use, permitting, and franchise negotiation decisions.
The level of government closest to the people oppose H.R. 3557 as it:
Mandates that all local wireless siting decisions be “deemed granted” in impractical short time periods. (Compare the Federal agencies’ 270 days to act, while locals must conduct all engineering and other reviews in as little as 60 days. GLL mentioned Ray Baum Act – feds get fair market value.)
Provides no public safety protections for construction of these “deemed granted” facilities. (Construction will proceed without safety inspection or traffic control. (Does this mean skirting the periodic inspections of structural deployment, electrical work, etc.?)
Sets timelines that are impossible to meet; creates technical grounds for defeating incompleteness notices that would pause the shot clock; and requires a local government to draft, publish and deliver to an applicant, on the same day that the local governing body hears and votes on the application, a written denial decision. “All proceedings required by a State or local government or instrumentality thereof for the approval of the request” must be taken within these timelines.
Empowers providers to install facilities where they choose regardless of local zoning, thus eliminating the ability of local government to balance providers’ and neighbors’ interests and jeopardizing the ability of local governments to impose stealth or concealment factors.
Limits all local fees to a locality’s objectively reasonable costs. Unlike current FCC rules and safe harbor pricing, localities must justify their fees using a complex, burdensome rate-making formula.
Substitutes FCC for local federal district court as reviewing body for challenges to decisions, thus breaking promise made by Congress in 1996 that local governments would not be required to travel to Washington to defend local decisions.
Imposes new and similarly flawed timelines and “deemed granted” remedies on applications for telecommunications facilities.
Eliminates cable franchise renewals, thereby removing ability of state or local communities to enforce franchise obligations such as build-out, customer service, and PEG.
Grants a cable operator the unilateral right to terminate a franchise but creates no obligation to remove cable system from rights-of-way.
Affirmatively grants cable operators the right to provide non-cable services while prohibiting localities from imposing any fees on cable operators’ revenue from non-cable services.
JAG wants every one of our New Jersey municipalities, along with our county, state and federal legislatures to be aware of this bill and why it must be stopped.
H.R. 3557 allows for the elimination of local rights and will cause suffering to local communities. It would allow cable, wireless and telecommunications companies to, as they wish, use public property and access to the public’s rights-of-way. This bill would eliminate franchise renewals that support many community functions including Public, Educational and Government (PEG) Channels.
If this proceeds and becomes law, the public will get nothing in return from it but problems, while all of its benefits and rewards will be solely awarded to these businesses. For further information on H.R. 3557, please visit the following link for an in-depth Zoom Meet we recently had on it. An In-Depth Discussion on H.R. 3557
In the heart of Newark, New Jersey, an exciting development in the world of PEG (Public, Educational, and Government) broadcasting is about to unfold. Cologna Productions, a local media company known for its innovative approach to broadcasting, is set to take center stage at the next Jersey Access Group (JAG) meeting. The focal point of their presentation? A groundbreaking platform they’ve been developing for the past two years, aptly named NJGOVTV.
The Jersey Access Group (JAG) is a community of PEG broadcasting professionals, enthusiasts, and advocates dedicated to promoting and advancing local media across the state of New Jersey. The JAG meetings serve as a hub for individuals and organizations to share ideas, collaborate, and stay updated on the latest trends and innovations in PEG broadcasting. Cologna Productions’ upcoming presentation promises to be a highlight of this ongoing mission.
NJGOVTV: Bridging Communities and Government
NJGOVTV represents a bold step towards enhancing the connection between local government and the communities it serves. It is a comprehensive platform designed to streamline the dissemination of vital government information, foster civic engagement, and empower residents with a deeper understanding of their local governance.
Key Features of NJGOVTV:
1. Accessible Content: NJGOVTV aims to bring government closer to the people through a user-friendly interface. It offers easy access to live and recorded government meetings, press conferences, town hall sessions, and public service announcements.
2. Archived Content: NJGOVTV stores an extensive archive of past government events, ensuring that residents can access critical information whenever they need it. This repository of knowledge empowers citizens to stay informed about the decisions shaping their communities.
3. Mobile Accessibility: In a world where information is at our fingertips, NJGOVTV is designed to be accessible on multiple devices, including smartphones and tablets. This mobile functionality ensures that residents can stay connected no matter where they are.
4. Government Transparency: Cologna Productions has worked diligently to ensure that NJGOVTV fosters transparency in local government operations. Through the platform, government officials can communicate their decisions and actions clearly and directly to their constituents.
5. Video Downloads: NJGOVTV allows residents to download content stored on the platform, enabling them to save a copy of meetings or events to their local hard drives for future reference.
6. Casting to Smart TVs: Residents can cast content from their computers or mobile devices to their smart TVs, making it even more convenient to access and view local government proceedings and community events.
7. No Cable Subscription Required: With NJGOVTV, residents no longer need to be cable subscribers to access their local PEG Channel. This opens up access to a broader audience and promotes inclusivity.
8. Emergency Notifications: During times of emergency, each town can post emergency videos or send text messages to subscribed affected residents. This feature is crucial for disseminating critical information about flooded areas, street closures due to snow, alternate routes, natural or man-made disasters, terrorism, and more.
What sets NJGOVTV apart from mainstream social media platforms is its dedication to providing a safe, ad-free, and neutral space for PEG broadcasting of public meetings and community events. Unlike popular social media platforms, NJGOVTV is not cluttered with advertisements or subject to ever-changing algorithms that may affect the visibility of content.
Furthermore, NJGOVTV is committed to content neutrality. It does not engage in censorship; rather, it places the responsibility for uploaded content on the shoulders of the PEG managers or government entities. This ensures that information remains open and accessible to all without bias or interference. In conclusion, Cologna Productions’ presentation at the next JAG meeting, October 25 @ 12noon, promises to be a momentous event in the world of PEG broadcasting. NJGOVTV represents not only a technological achievement but also a step forward in creating stronger, more engaged communities through Public, Educational, and Government broadcasting. As we eagerly await the unveiling of this innovative platform, it’s clear that the future of PEG broadcasting in New Jersey is brighter than ever, thanks to the dedication and vision of Cologna Productions.
This is not a US Army campaign to get you to enlist, rather it is JAG’s plea for you to run for a Trustee position. Each year several JAG Trustee positions expire, and we look to the membership to run and fill these positions. This year is no exception, as three positions are set to expire at the end of December 2023.
So, what does a JAG Trustee do? JAG Trustees help shape and set goals for the Executive Board annually during their annual reorganization meeting. In addition, JAG’s Executive Board Members are voted into place by the Board of Trustees during their annual reorganization meeting. Trustees create the executive board via nominations and voting during the January Re-Organization Meeting, creating the positions of President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Recording Secretary and Corresponding Secretary. The positions of External Relations and Production Chairs are selected by those committees and brought to the board.
So, what is required of a Trustee? JAG Trustees participate in two annual meetings including the annual reorganization meeting and annual board retreat. Plus, you are required to attend a majority of the JAG Monthly Membership Meetings. In addition, since Trustees make up the Executive Board, you would be required to attend monthly board meetings, currently held virtually. JAG Executive Board Members and Trustees are also required to be part of a standing or ad-hoc committee as well, attending monthly meetings for the committees.
Don’t let all the above scare you away. You will be in good hands with the current board members/trustees who will work with you and help bring you “into the fold”. Not everyone is familiar with the roles and responsibilities of board members for a charitable nonprofit and fortunately educational assistance for board members is available. The harder issue is asking volunteers to take time to learn about their role and grasp what makes a great board member. Luckily there are plenty of virtual options, although in-person, and especially peer-to-peer programs, are often the most useful – and fun. There is no doubt that there is a commitment of sorts to be a Trustee, but it’s to an organization you are already a member of and committed too. So why not take the next step, be part of the board and help shape the organization and future of JAG! Nominations will open officially open on Wednesday, October 25th at the next JAG meeting and will remain open until Wednesday, November 8th at 11am (Eastern Time). If you cannot make the October 25th meeting, please email me directly at email@example.com and announce that you are want to run as a Trustee in the upcoming elections, also include a brief bio and statement why you want to be a Trustee for the JAG organization.