OEM’s Increased Reliance on Drones and Live Technology

by Christine Federico Hoffman, producer/assistant director, Cranford TV

The increased use of drones and live video technology are becoming indispensable tools for emergency personnel when fighting crime and communicating to their citizens during emergencies.

In a special presentation by the Jersey Access Group (a consortium of local public access channels in New Jersey) members of police, fire and emergency management personnel told of their increased efficiency with these new advanced tools. The use of drones exponentially increases police effectiveness during events for crowd control, suspect tracking and firefighting. “We’ve gone from the Flintstones to the Jetsons,” said John Centanni, Emergency Management Coordinator for East Hanover Township.

The city of Elizabeth now has 15 trained drone pilots, said Luis Figueiredo, a detective in the Elizabeth Police Dept. Drones are sent out on about 30 to 40 calls daily. The city’s first responder drone has gone out on 1,400 calls since January. Drones are used to track fleeing suspects, some who thought they had lost the police but were then surprised to find them waiting at the next corner. Drones also are used to monitor large festivals to track potential problems and to allow officers immediately to assess the scope of a developing problem. Drones are even used on ordinary calls, such as fender benders.

“We can send our drone and see if the call is still there, and see if the call is more serious,” Figueiredo said. “If we get on scene quick (with the drone) we can already ask for a tow truck. The number of calls we do on a daily basis justifies the existence of the technology. We are able to cover a larger area in quicker response time. Say school is letting out or it’s rush hour. You can get on scene quicker and make better decisions.”

In one vivid example of the benefit of live drone technology, Figueiredo recounted fighting a large car carrier ship fire. Drones were used overhead to pinpoint the fire’s hot areas and to help firefighters direct their water streams. In the past, firefighters had to stand on surrounding structures to see which direction the fire was heading.

This live video technology is made possible through a company called Live U, which built its brand helping broadcast television deliver live images worldwide without the use of expensive satellite trucks. Live U bonds cellular service and Wi-Fi to create a strong video signal that is sent to the customer’s receiver. The technology also now is being embraced in emergency management circles.

Centanni said that multiple agencies in East Hanover joined to establish its drone team to use for emergency and informational purposes. Police joining forces with OEM, fire, EMS and DPW created more funding opportunities and increased the number of pilot personnel and shared equipment. “To make the program work, the municipality must buy into the idea wholly, and commit to training, updating equipment and streaming technologies.” he said.

Having a better command of the emergency situation also helps to strengthen a partnership between OEM and local public access stations, which have become critical in reaching citizens quickly with accurate information. Some local public access stations are sending out live broadcasts during emergencies as a link between their city’s authorities and citizens.

When a local popular food pantry burned to the ground in Piscataway, Mayor Brian C. Wahler appeared on Piscataway Community Television live to share facts and to calm citizens. Others, such as the City of Bloomfield, have streamed OEM meetings live before a major anticipated weather event to calm residents’ fears and to show officials working to keep everyone safe.

Municipalities have found this partnership to be beneficial and even essential during a time when many curious citizens turn to gossip on Facebook, which often contains inaccurate information. “It’s important to get good info out to the community quickly,” said Bob Duthaler, executive producer and partner at DNS Media Group and president of JAG. “Or else rumors grow.“

Bloomfield Fire Chief Louis Venezia said that releasing accurate information in a timely manner is increasing in importance. “I think just the hysteria from the bad information that develops from instant messaging from people…they could put any spin they want,” he said. “It could go anywhere from we have a possible breaking and entering to turning that into someone broke into someone’s house and we have a hostage situation. So, it cuts that short and gets out the real message. That real-time message that comes from an authority stifles a lot of concerns.”

JAG Conference 2024: The Face of JAG

by Linda Besink, Treasurer

My role as JAG Treasurer entails many duties: some interesting, some tedious, but all important and integral to the functioning of JAG. The most visible and exciting is welcoming attendees at the annual JAG Conference. Assisting and answering questions is of great value to our members. It’s also rewarding to me in several ways.

One of my major duties as Treasurer is sending out invoices for annual member dues. I have gotten to know more of our members (and others responsible for paying invoices) as each year passes. Putting faces to names is invaluable to me. So, greeting members at the conference – in person — is an enormous help. Sometimes this is the only opportunity members have to begin a dialogue with JAG. In this, I have a unique position as a JAG Board member.

This year, I was able to have a conversation with Chuck Ricciardi of the New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Commission. The Commission provided a booth at our conference, and as it turned out, Chuck told me that one of the previous interns at my community access facility now works at the Commission; they are very pleased with him. We were also sorry to lose this intern when he went on to college. It made my day to know that he has remained in the industry and that we had given him a start. It was a meaningful conversation.

I enjoyed seeing old friends in person and meeting new ones at the conference. Sincere thanks to all who attended! Vendor support:

The 2024 Conference In Review

by Geoffrey Belinfante, Conference Committee, Vice Chair

Planning the JAG conference is like staging a high school musical. You and your colleagues work all year long on the musical (read “conference”), and all the events you’ve planned come and go so quickly that you barely have a chance to appreciate your hard work. That’s how I feel about this year’s JAG Conference and Awards dinner. While admittedly the day is a blur to me, I do remember some of the highlights and I have talked to lots of people who attended workshops that I could not so, by way of full disclosure, this article is based on personal observations and what I have heard from others.

By all measures, the 2024 Conference was a success. Attendance was up substantially from last year; the workshops were all well attended and every time I was on the exhibit floor there were people chatting at the booths. The day started out with two user groups where TelVue and Varto Technologies shared new developments for their respective technologies and answered operational questions from the assembled users. Both were full.

Next up was the showcase event of the morning, and perhaps of the entire day. People came from all over the state to attend the workshop sponsored by LiveU that featured technology that allows drone footage to be easily integrated into both Emergency Management operations and the towns TV channels. The example of the use of drone footage during last year’s Elizabeth Ship fire was particularly noteworthy.

Our lunchtime panel was just as advertised. A packed room heard from assembled experts who explained the importance of broadband in the future of television distribution in general, and local access TV distribution in particular. Valarry Bullard, Broadband Director, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities explained the importance of identifying the broadband “deserts” in your community and communicating their location to the BPU so your township can take advantage of the federal money that has been allocated by the Biden administration to provide broadband service to all.

Mike Wassener, President & CEO, Alliance for Community Media and JAG’s attorney Ken Fellman, Esq., founder and partner, Wilson Williams Fellman Dittman, emphasized the importance of making broadband available to all in the 21st century. With people cutting the cord and thereby loosing access to local town channels, we have to ensure that broadband service is available to all and that these channels are available on those broadband services. It’s part of what Mike called their “digital right,” and that right extends to their ability to access their townships PEG channel. It’s part of a new standard of governance in a democracy and every citizen should have the ability to view their government in action.

Providing access to inexpensive broadband service to all is key to that participation. Robert Boyle, CEO, Planet Networks, also made it clear that in the services he provides to township, there is always the willingness to provide the hyper local information that local stations provide to his subscribers. If there were any JAG members who didn’t understand why they should be concerned about Broadband deployment in their areas, they certainly understand now.

After our Broadband Panel, if anyone was wondering how they can reach every citizen in their town, including the cord-cutters, we offered a panel that discussed the new and different ways to reach all your citizens with broadband access but no cable service.

The Sessions

After lunch was the period when I was busy hosting workshops, so I’ll review the success of the panels I hosted–admittedly with my rather biased view of the three panels I moderated. The first was a panel presented by the New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Commission, which is part of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, that was roughly based on a presentation that they have been giving to municipal officials across the state called “Making Your Municipality Film Ready.”

The objective of the presentation was to insure that visiting Film and Television productions companies can take full advantage of all that New Jersey has to offer without a lot of red tape to obtain the required permits. When Governor Murphy re-instituted the tax incentives for film and tv producers, the amount of production in the Garden State began to soar and now, with two major production facilities planned for the future, it will only continue to increase. Charles Riccardi, Operations & Creative Director & Elizabeth Parchment, Chief Marketing Officer from the commission emphasized the potential economic impact of a large film shoot for local businesses. One of the things that the commission recommended in their presentation was that a municipal employee be appointed as the principal point of contact for any producers interested in shooting in their town. It was suggested that it might be helpful if that person was someone who understood the needs of film and television production. What better person then someone involved in running the local access channel.  As you can imagine, that got the attention of all those in the room.

For several years now, we have all expected to face the fact that the federal government will require that all forms of public meetings be closed-captioned. Those days are drawing closer as the Justice Department, rather than the FCC, begins to look to enforcing closed captioning under the Americans with Disabilities act. We presented two workshops on the subject, one by Mike Wassenaar, President & CEO, Alliance for Community Media and Jeff Bayne, partner, Spiegel & McDiarmid, that covered the activities of those in Washington who are charged with enforcing the ADA. The take away from this panel was that the mandate from Washington is coming, but it’s hard to predict exactly when. It’s likely that there will be a two-to-three-year grace period before the mandate kicks in.

We also presented a session to discuss the technical choices available to help stations to comply. Jesse Lerman, President/CEO, TelVue Corporation, took those present through the various ways to caption a live meeting. He also went into some detail about the solutions that TelVue offers to complete the task. Once again, those who attended understood what is require and how much it will cost when they have to comply.

Some stations may be facing the renewal of franchise agreements in the near future and that can be a stressful time for a municipality. Panelists Ken Fellman, Esq., founder and partner, Wilson Williams Fellman Dittman and Jeff Bayne, partner, Spiegel & McDiarmid were able to update station managers as to what to expect when they and/or their bosses sit down to negotiate with the various cable companies that service New Jersey. This also included a discussion about the statewide franchise agreement and what is included when a carrier opts for this kind of contract.

Simultaneously panelists Gina Forbes, Station Manager, Woodbridge TV; Jesse Lerman, President/CEO, TelVue Corporation; Joe Fernandes, Assistant Supervisor, Woodbridge TV; Brandon Uhlig, Station Manager, Metuchen Media, explored how  to provide content to different distribution platforms. This provides new opportunities to enhance their programs. The session could have easily gone on for another hour as there were a number of questions that couldn’t be addressed and led to a rush to the panelist after the session ended.

Thanks to Don Smith’s contacts at News 12, we were able to present a very informative session on interviewing techniques featuring a former colleague of his, Kristina Behr, an Emmy award winning anchor and news reporter. The attendees had a number of questions relating to problems they had encountered that effected the quality of their program. They went away with some new tools and a better understanding of how to control an interview.

My last session concerned the unlikely places to look in your municipality for story ideas to enhance your local programming. Thanks to fellow panelists Anthony Pagliuco, Station Manager, East Brunswick TV; Gina Forbes, Station Manager, Woodbridge TV and Abby Wilson, Production Manager, C-NET, State College, PA, we presented sources of programming ideas that are readily available in most towns. While none of the ideas presented were particularly revolutionary, those who attended found it useful to see all these opportunities in one convenient place.

The final panel of the day discussed the availability of new and smaller equipment for use on remote shoots. Panelists Ed Cologna, Cologna Productions; Paul DeStefano, Northeast Regional Sales Manager, DeSisti and Yervant Keshishian, Sales Engineer, Varto Technologies addressed streamlining your workflow in the field by minimizing gear to significantly enhance efficiency and make your work more manageable.

What an afternoon. My head is still processing an amazing collection of information. The committee deserves a round of applause for providing a diverse array of sessions with knowledgeable panelists.

The end of the day brought a raffle for all those who stayed for the duration, a cocktail reception with some tasty passed hors d’oeuvres. Thanks to Cologna Productions, TelVue and Varto Technologies for providing items. This was a great time to network with attendees and vendors and relax after a full day of sessions. But there was still the final event of the conference to attend. Soon we would celebrate the work of the members of JAG.

The Banquet

And of course it was soon time to celebrate and recognize outstanding achievements and the presentation of the JAG Awards. First the “Serving Community Media Award” was presented to Ken Fellman for his years of assistance as counsel to JAG. This award consisted of an engraved cake serving set that Ken used to ceremoniously cut a cake that was then served to the community media representatives that were present.

Next, JAG presented the “Legislator of the Year Award” to Senator Cory Booker for his continued help in supporting the survival of local access TV. The plaque read:


Although Senator Booker could not attend, he sent a wonderful video message about JAG.  https://youtu.be/Mba7WMrhSOY

JAG also presents a Community Recognition  Award to recognize a local official whose effort in New Jersey strengthens JAG’s value. This year JAG recognized Lisa Allen, Council President, City of Summit for her many years of support. The Plaque read:


Nick Besink received the “JAG Members Recognition Award” for all the great work he has done to spread the importance of JAG membership to towns all over Bergen County.

The award read:


The President’s Ovation Awards were given to Dave Garb for the work he’s done as chair of the Legislative Committee including visiting NJ legislative representatives in Washington on behalf of all JAG members; and finally to yours truly for my work as the chair of JAG’s External Relations Committee I am truly grateful. The award read:

In acknowledgement of his

unrelenting commitment to the

members of the Jersey Access Group,

PEG Access and local governments

throughout our area.

The JAG Awards followed and I am always impressed by the quality of the productions that win the Awards of Excellence. This year was no exception. The 25 awards spanned the largest group of stations ever, a clear indication that local access is growing in New Jersey. While it came and went faster than I would have liked, this year’s conference was a great success. Thanks to all our loyal sponsors: TelVue, Varto Technologies, LiveU, Planet Networks, DeSisti and Cologna Productions for their continuing support. If you missed it this year, be on the lookout for the details of next year’s Conference. Don’t miss it!

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

by Dave Garb, Legislative Committee Chair

For this month’s newsletter, we will continue the discussion about current federal actions that have been enacted which will have an effect on how local governments provide information on the internet for those with disabilities. We will also explore the latest law that reforms New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act—something that has been long overdue.

DOJ’s ADA Rule for State and Local Governments


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

To find out exactly what this ruling means to municipalities and PEG channels specifically, JAG presented an informative session about this very subject during its annual conference in May. The panel guests were Michael Wassenaar, President of the Alliance for Community Media (ACM) and Jeff Bayne, Partner at the law firm of Spiegel & McDiarmid, LLP. This revealing forum opened up the attendees eyes and ears to what was to come and what they need to do to prepare for it.

State and local governments provide many of their services, programs and activities through websites and mobile apps. When these websites and mobile apps are not accessible, they can create barriers for people with disabilities. Requirements for accessibility helps to make sure everyone has access to fully participate in all civic happenings or other community events like town meetings or programs at their child’s school.

To understand how everyone can become compliant, review the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Version 2.1, Level AA, which can be found by visiting the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). These regulations are the technical standards for state and local governments’ web content and mobile apps and will guide these demands. Further information can also be found on these other useful sites:



One such requirement is for the captioning on videos that are shown on the web. Yes, this means PEG stations that utilize the internet to transmit or showcase their programming (Live-streaming, Video-On-Demand, etc.). Besides this, there were some other unexpected rules that were also added to make our heads spin.

We reminded everyone last December to start budgeting for this, and now we all must figure it out. Fortunately we have a little bit of time to prepare. The timeline below shows the compliance deadlines.

This table shows how much time a state or local government have to comply with this rule.

State and local government sizeCompliance date
0 to 49,999 personsThree years after the final rule is published   4/8/27
Special district governmentsThree years after the final rule is published   4/8/27
50,000 or more personsTwo years after the final rule is published      4/8/26

In the very near future, this session will be available to watch in its entirety.  Where to view it will be discussed in an upcoming newsletter.

Reform to the Open Public Records Act (OPRA)

From the NJLM:

On June 5th, Governor Murphy signed into law legislation to modernize and reform the Open Public Records Act (OPRA).

This new law will take effect just after Labor Day. It is imperative to remember that the existing requirements of OPRA remain in effect and the new provisions will not apply to OPRA requests submitted before the effective date.

In a statement, the governor acknowledged that his decision to sign the bill would disappoint many advocates but if he “believed that this bill would enable corruption in any way, I would unhesitatingly veto it.” The Governor noted that “OPRA has not been the subject of any type of comprehensive update until now. Today’s world is very different than 2002, a time when the Internet was far less ubiquitous and there was vastly less access to individuals’ personal information.” Governor Murphy also stated that “After a thorough examination of the provisions of the bill, I am persuaded that the changes, viewed comprehensively, are relatively modest.” 

Governor Murphy also stated that “Over a hundred mayors from both parties have asked for it to be enacted into law. I understand that some may view this support cynically, but I do not believe it is fair to dismiss an overwhelming bipartisan consensus from local elected officials. Serving in local elected office is a deeply thankless and glamour-free job, and I have consistently found mayors from both parties to be dedicated and hard-working public servants. Mayors subject themselves to constant scrutiny by their neighbors and their very own communities, especially in the age of social media, and I simply reject the idea that those calling for the bill’s passage are part of a nefarious plot to evade transparency and accountability.”

“The bill encourages public records to be placed on agency websites to the extent feasible, so they will be readily accessible even without an OPRA request, and appropriate funds to support those efforts. Furthermore, if the requestor is referred to the public agency’s website, the bill requires that the agency assist requestors in locating those records. The bill also provides additional flexibility for submitting requests by allowing their submission via form, letter, or email. With regard to personal information, the bill takes a number of positive steps. It defines personal identifying information and specifically adds new protections for month and day of birth, personal email addresses, the street address portion of a person’s primary or secondary home address, information about minors, and information protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)”.

This new law will take effect in 90 days, just after Labor Day. It is imperative to remember that the existing requirements of OPRA remain in effect and the new provisions will not apply to OPRA requests submitted before the effective date.  Please visit the following link to review a special handout that was created by the New Jersey League of Municipalities to help everyone understand OPRA and the changes to it.

President’s Message: June 2024 What Are You Doing This Summer – Add JAG To Your List!

by Bob Duthaler

Summer, a time to relax, get away and just spend my days doing nothing and sipping on an ice-cold drink by a lake, pool or ocean. Nay! Who am I kidding? It is never like that for me or the television industry. Well, for JAG, it never stops either. JAG Executive Board and committees continue throughout the summer. In fact, some of these committees are gearing up strong right now. So I thought I would share a few Summer checklist Items:

  1. Conference Committee just finished up reviewing the 2024 Conference. They’re getting ready to close the books on this year’s event and open the books on 2025. If you have any interest in being part of the committee or want more information, reach out to me. I would be delighted to have you as a committee member. Having more people involved, gives us  stronger and more diverse ideas and the ability to reach a larger group. Email me at bduthaler@jagonline.org .
  • JAG Awards Committee is coming off a fantastic 2024 awards season. This committee is also getting ready to close the books on the 2024 awards season and gear up for the 2025 awards season. The committee is always looking for new members, ideas to increase station involvement and thoughts on updating any awards categories. Please reach out the committee’s current chair George Fairfield at gfairfield@piscatawaynj.org to find out  how you can join this committee.
  • Membership Committee is working hard recruiting new members, getting old members back in the fold and looking for creative new ways to bring in new members and groups interested into our organization. The committee is always looking for members to reach out to surrounding towns and organizations and get them involved with JAG. Now is also a good time to check your current status of JAG Membership and make sure your dues are paid up. Questions on payment can be made to JAG Treasurer Linda Besink @ lbesink@gmail.com or membership questions or to join the committee please reach out to Stephanie Gibbons, Membership Chair, at sgibbons@jagonline.org .
  • Legislative Committee is extremely busy now and these next few months. There is a lot of things happening on the Federal Level that will work its way down to both the state and local levels and can have a severe impact on PEG access, franchise fees, local authority on rights-of-way, closed captioning and ADA compliance. Now, more than ever is a great time to get involved in this committee because your station’s very existence is at stake! Look for committee updates in both this newsletter and the special legislative newsletter, upcoming email calls to action and more. Please reach out to Chair of the Legislative Committee David Garb at DAVEGARB@paps.net .
  • Production Committee is getting back on track and gearing up to create a new JAG video for, legislative outreach, membership updates and the League of Municipalities, along with several other projects. Also if you have programs for JAG’s YouTube and Streaming Channel, please reach out to the committee as well. If you feel you are creative, love to edit or shoot then reach out to Rick Gearhart, Production Committee Chair at frederickgearhart@gmail.com . This committee is always looking for new and creative people – remember, many hand help to lighten the load for all!
  • External Relations Committee is always active throughout the year. But as General Membership meetings take July and August off, this committee is gearing up to make sure future meetings have great speakers and vendors on hand to give more diversity and information to our monthly meetings. Plus this committee outlines and schedules sessions on behalf of JAG for the New Jersey League of Municipalities Conference. If you want to help out at the League Conference, have any thoughts on what you would like to see at meetings, then please reach out to the committee Chair, Geoffrey Belinfante at geoffbel512@gmail.com .
  • Finance Committee meets monthly as well. They help steer the financial direction of this organization. They help shape our budgets, look for creative financial solutions and work with the treasurer on different aspects of the JAG organization.  The Finance Committee is always looking for new people. Reach out to JAG Treasurer and Committee Chair Linda Besink@ lbesink@gmail.com .
  • Executive Board Committee continues throughout the year to have monthly meetings, occasional emergency meetings and our multi-day retreat. Speaking of the retreat, the JAG Executive Board with input and direction from JAG’s Managing Director Rich Desimone, is gearing up for this year’s retreat in mid-August. We will be meeting virtually over several days of meetings in which we review the organizations policies and procedures and make recommendations for changes that help shape the future of this organization.  These are always intense days to say the least! If this is something that interest you, then one of the best ways to get involved is to become a vice-chair of any committee which automatically puts you on the Leadership Development Committee.
  • Leadership Development Committee says it all.  Its main purpose to get new members involved in the organization and to be a feeder committee to the board. The committee is made up of representatives from all the existing committees. For more information on the Leadership Development Committee, please reach out to JAG’s Vice President and Committee Chair, Doug Seidel at dseidel@piscatawaynj.org

I hope this list gives you some insight into our organization, sparks some interest in you in participating on a committee or overall just gets you excited to be part of the JAG organization. Remember, our organization is only as good as our members, and it takes many active members and those willing to participate to make it strong and be the organization we all want and deserve.

JAG’s Annual Conference Is Here – May 2024

by Geoffrey Belinfante, Conference Committee, Vice Chair

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


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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Registration is now open at  Shop – JAG Conference

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

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

by Dave Garb, Legislative Committee Chair

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

DOJ’s ADA Rule for State and Local Governments


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

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

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



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

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


Reasserts Broadband Jurisdiction, Reestablishing National Open Internet Standard

Press Release from the FCC:

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

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

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

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

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

FCC, FTC Formalize Partnership for Protecting the Open Internet

Press Release from the FCC:

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

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

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

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

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

by Bob Duthaler

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spotlight: John Kaplow, A Path to Community Television

John Kaplow

By John Kaplow, Independent Producer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JAG’s Annual Conference Taking Shape – April 2024

by Geoffrey Belinfante, Conference Committee, Vice Chair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Registration is now open at  Shop – JAG Conference

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

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

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

Call for Vendors

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

Exhibitors include:

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

Thanks to our sponsors:


Titanium-Planet Networks

Platinum-Varto Technologies


Gold-Cologna Productions

Gold-DeSisti Lighting