Three New Jersey congressmen joined seven of their New York colleagues in protest of Verizon’s decision to end their contract with Fios1 News.
Verizon announced this week that they would carry News 12 New Jersey instead.
The move essentially reduces the number of local news television stations in New Jersey by 33%, leaving just News 12 and NJTV.
New Jersey has long struggled for network TV news coverage in a state that is essentially serviced out of New York and Philadelphia.
“Ending this contract would shut down Fios1 News, a major contributor to original programming, and threaten the robust free press that drives our democracy in New York and New Jersey,” Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson), Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) and Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill) said in a letter to Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg.
Pascrell, Gottheimer and Malinowski said that Fios1 News “has played a crucial role in not only providing award winning local coverage but also providing jobs that enrich our regional economy.”
“We are troubled that ending this contract would result in a loss of 150 jobs and put almost 100 local journalists out of work,” the three congressmen wrote. “As we have seen from the cuts and consolidation in print media, local journalism is irreplaceable, and these cuts would do great harm.”
The move comes at a time when GateHouse Media is in the process of acquiring Gannett, a move that will place 15 of New Jersey’s 17 daily newspapers will be under the control of two national media conglomerates. Advance Publications owns the Star-Ledger and four other dailies.
None of the 17 newspapers are independently-owned. The Trentonian is run by Digital First Media and The Press of Atlantic City by Berkshire Hathaway.
The congressmen asked Verizon to reinstate Fios1, which is run by the Regional News Network (RNN).
“Verizon’s plans to replace Fiosl News will fail to provide the diverse programming that is so critical to our communities,” Pascrell, Gottheimer and Malinowski said. “We believe it is Verizon’ s responsibility to offer original, hyper-local news programming to ensure competition in these local news markets.”
Also on the letter were New York Reps. Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel, Peter King, Sean Patrick Maloney, Lee Zeldin, Thomas Suozzi, and Kathleen Rice.Verizon congressional letter