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NJTV operator adds five board members to build business ties

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PMNJ Board of Trustees Chairman Josh Weston and Vice Chair Liz Thomas. (Courtesy NJTV)
PMNJ Board of Trustees Chairman Josh Weston and Vice Chair Liz Thomas. (Courtesy NJTV)

A quintet of Garden State business leaders has joined the board of the nonprofit operator of NJTV.

Public Media NJ Inc., a nonprofit affiliate of New York's WNET and the operator of NJTV, announced the additions to its board of trustees Tuesday afternoon. The board held its first meeting Friday.

WNET President and CEO Neal Shapiro, also a PMNJ board member, said the goal is to add board members who have a good grasp of New Jersey issues and deep ties to the state. He said the business community is a good place to look for those qualifications.

"On the one hand, they recognize the importance of being in the community," Shapiro said. "And I think they recognize the importance of supporting something that's just for New Jersey."

The newly elected board members include: New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co. President and CEO Bernard Flynn; Edward J. Graham, South Jersey Industries chairman, president and CEO; PSEG Energy Holdings President Randall E. Mehrberg; Brenda Ross-Dulan, an executive vice president with Wells Fargo; and Lowenstein Sandler Chairman and CEO Gary Wingens. The new additions bring the board's membership to 12.

Shapiro said the new members also bring business knowledge, something that's vital for NJTV.

"We're trying to come up with a new form for public television," he said.

That new form is a sustainable public media business model that survives without state funding — and on a budget roughly one-third the size of its predecessor, NJN. That involves taking advantage of new technology and new partnerships, he said, including deals announced earlier this month to add bureaus at four New Jersey colleges.

NJTV also this week debuted its new NJ Today studios at Montclair State University. NJ Today is the network's flagship news program, which airs weeknights.

PMNJ also announced the election of former Automatic Data Processing Chairman Josh Weston as PMNJ's board chairman. Thomas Boyd Communications Principal Liz Thomas was tabbed as the board's vice chair. Thomas is a former member of the state's Public Broadcasting Authority, which oversaw NJN.

As 2011 winds down, Shapiro said WNET has followed through on its promises regarding NJTV, including a promise to open a New Jersey studio by year's end and hire three reporters. They've hired four reporters to date, he said.

At Friday's inaugural board meeting, Shapiro said the trustees were upbeat.

"If anything, they were a little concerned that we've accomplished a lot and haven't done a good job of telling our story," he said. "We've been so focused on getting things done that we haven't done a strong enough job of communicating what we've done so far."

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