Over-the-Air Television in New Jersey: Not serving the interests of the people?

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econobox_ recently relocated himself back to New Jersey, specifically to a county in the Philadelphia designated market area (DMA)... and has since realized that New Jersey sorely needs to have one (or two) DMAs that specifically serve New Jersey.

In a typical DMA, one or two cities and vast rural land may be covered by the broadcast area (for example, in the case of the San Francisco DMA, the major, nearby cities of Santa Clara, San Jose, and Oakland are covered; and, speaking from experience, the stations do generally uphold their end of the bargain and talk about the non-San Francisco cities), however, the state of New Jersey, home to well-populated cities and suburbs such as Trenton, Newark, Atlantic City and Cape May is only part of the Philadelphia and New York DMAs. This wouldn't be an issue if the state didn't have a population of roughly 9.3 million people, with nearly 400,000 of them living in the Trenton metropolitian statistical area (MSA) alone. For comparison's sake, the Trenton MSA has roughly 68% of the population Wyoming has... and Wyoming has two in-state DMAs, which do cover a far more vast region than Philadelphia's or New York's DMAs, but in turn, cover only a fraction of the population those DMAs cover (although, allowing Denver's or Salt Lake City's DMAs to have grown to the size they are is horrible on the part of the FCC and cable/satellite providers et. al.).

New Jersey licensed TV stations don't serve New Jersey either

There are many TV stations that are licensed to New Jersey, including, but not limited to: WWOR-TV (Secaucus - the "flagship" of the MyNetworkTV network), WNJT (Trenton - PBS), WACP (Atlantic City - religious), and WUVP (Vineland - Univision). However, in my opinion, these stations do not adequately serve New Jersey, for a variety of reasons.

New Jersey PBS (WNJT, WNJS, etc.)

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In my opinion, since then-governor Chris Christie forced the state of New Jersey to divest its public media networks in 2011, New Jersey has been left without a true New Jersey-centric public broadcaster. If you look at the bottom of the ID slide above, you'll notice that two names are listed at the bottom of the screen: "NEW JERSEY PUBLIC BROADCASTING AUTHORITY" and "PUBLIC MEDIA NJ, INC." The New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority is merely the licenseholder for the stations, while the stations are leased to Public Media NJ, Inc., which is, unfortunately, a subsidary of WNET (scroll to the bottom of the page), the New York PBS affiliate. And, in the defense of WNET Public Media NJ, Inc., they do produce the only New Jersey-centric news program that is availible over-the-air, NJ Spotlight News, but, I've observed that NJ Spotlight News tends to focus either on purely political issues and non-political issues within Northern New Jersey... maybe the fact they have Newark in the background instead of Trenton should've been a sign:

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Overall, I'd consider New Jersey PBS to be less-than-ideal, but the closest New Jersey has to an over-the-air station (in this case, "network) serving the interests of New Jersey.

WWOR-TV ("My9"), Secaucus

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WWOR-TV used to be called WOR-TV until 1987, when FCC regulations forced the change of the callsign. As WOR-TV, then-owner RKO General relocated the station's city of license to Secaucus (from New York, New York) to exploit an FCC loophole that forced the FCC to renew the broadcast license of any VHF station relocating to a state that lacked a commercial VHF station (this loophole was actually pushed for by then-New Jersey senator Bill Bradley, presumably with lobbying from RKO General). Since around 1986 (ending in 2020, apparently), the FCC has bound WWOR's operations to maintaining a news department which covers issues in New Jersey... something which WWOR hasn't done for many years, leading to pressure on the FCC to recall the station's license, as Fox's replacement program for the newscasts previously aired on WWOR, Chasing New Jersey, was dubious in terms of its actual coverage of news in New Jersey. Now, WWOR-TV doesn't air any newscasts, and instead maintains a schedule filled with trashy daytime talk shows (think Maury), court shows (think Divorce Court) and syndicated programming (Law and Order is commonly programmed during the daytime on WWOR).

WUVP-DT ("Univision Philadelphia"), Vineland

WUVP-DT is a Univision affiliate licensed to Vineland, branding their operations as "Univision Philadelphia." In my opinion, this station also does not serve the general population of New Jersey adequately, as it broadcasts a Philadelphia-centric format, in Spanish nonetheless (per the Census Bureau, only about 32% of New Jersey residents speak a language other than English mainly).

The other full-powered stations

This is a non-exhaustive list, only covering other notable full-power stations in New Jersey:

As you can likely surmise from those "other" stations, those also don't provide much (if any) information to New Jersey residents.

Philadelphia and New York-licensed stations

From my viewing, these stations also do not adequately cover issues in New Jersey, in spite of being the "in-market" affiliates for the area. Additionally, they also do not have good OTA coverage in most of New Jersey. My area is part of the Philadelphia DMA, and, based on my extensive observations of major network affiliates in Philadelphia (KYW [CBS], WPVI [ABC], WCAU [NBC], and WTXF [Fox]), none of them provide extensive or adequate coverage of issues in New Jersey (nor does WPHL, the CW affiliate for the Philadelphia DMA). I've observed the same phenomeon with the New York stations I have access to on my cable system (WNBC, WCBS and WABC)

The unfortunate solution: "You need cable"

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With the combination of the lack of over-the-air stations adequately covering New Jersey issues and the bad over-the-air reception, there's really only one option: cable TV. While I do subscribe to cable for the purposes of watching movies and TV shows, I have abstained from cable news due to networks such as Fox News and CNN (but not excluding other networks) being plagued with extreme bias. Until moving back to New Jersey, I got my news via talk radio (as I previously lived in an area with a local news and ABC Radio affiliate) and local TV stations, but since moving back, I've found myself having to watch News12 New Jersey for the purposes of recieving local news (I still go to outlets such as CBS and ABC for national news, as News12 doesn't really cover anything outside of New Jersey). News12 is a "suite" of networks operated by Optimum (AKA, Altice), which also operates "hyper-local" (Optimum's words, not mine) feeds for areas such as Long Island and The Bronx. Unfortuantely, as far as I can tell, outside of online articles, you need to subscribe to Optimum cable TV service (it is included on the "Basic" [or over-the-air stations only] package, though)... but I've also heard that News12 is also availible on Verizon "FiOS" nowadays.

I do find that the quality of the reporting on News12 is decent, with my only real gripe being with the "News12+" service, which promotes itself as an analog of Weatherscan (if you remember that), however, News12+ only airs programming from 05:00-Midnight daily (with several hours in the evening being excluded for public affairs programming and repeats of programming found on the main News12 New Jersey channel); the remaining timeslots are occupied by paid programming (which, in general, has become a less common occurrence on TV networks within the last decade, in my experience. In fact, the lack of good over-the-air local news here has effectively compelled me to keep paying Optimum for cable TV service, even if I somehow am compelled to switch to streaming for my TV viewing.

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