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Monmouth University Polling Institute

Garden State Divided on Sale of NJN

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

But most support some public funding

New Jerseyans feel that NJN television provides a valuable service and government should support it in some way. But the latest Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Press Media Poll  also finds the public is divided on plans to sell the state-owned broadcaster.

NJN TV and radio have been operated by the New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority for 40 years.  Governor Christie has proposed selling or transferring the station's assets by the end of this year.  A legislative task force has been holding hearings on this proposal.

Nearly 6-in-10 (58%) state residents approve of using public funds to help run NJN, compared to 36% who oppose this.  The number who currently support state funding is slightly lower than the 62% who felt this way in 1999, but higher than the 51% who said the same in 1994.

Although most residents support state funding of NJN, the public is divided on the proposed sale or transfer - 39% approve of the move and 34% disapprove, with another 26% having no opinion.  Among residents who have watched NJN at least once in the past month, opinion on the sale stands at 40% approve to 39% disapprove.  But among the smaller number of NJN viewers who are already aware of the proposed sale - representing about 1-in-10 New Jersey residents - just 36% approve of the sale, compared to 55% who disapprove.

The public is unsure whether the sale or transfer of NJN would affect its coverage of New Jersey topics and issues.  One-in-five (19%) say a sale would actually improve the station's coverage of the state and a similar number (18%) expect this coverage would get worse.  However, most feel that either coverage of the state would not change much (38%) or they don't know how it would change (25%) if the station is no longer owned by state government.

"The general public considers NJN an asset worth supporting.  But New Jersey is ambivalent about whether the station would be better off inside or outside of state government," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

In general, 58% of New Jersey residents say that it is very important to have a television station that focuses on the Garden State and another 30% say this is somewhat important.  Only 1-in-10 residents say having a Jersey-centric television station is not important.  These results are similar to polls conducted in the 1990s.

The poll also found that 85% of New Jerseyans have heard of NJN.  This includes 23% who can name NJN as the state's public broadcaster - compared to 20% in both 1994 and 1999 and 12% in 1988.

Just over half (51%) of the public report having tuned in to NJN television at least once in the past month.  This is down slightly from 59% in 1999 and 56% in 1994, but is higher than numbers recorded in prior decades (36% in 1988, 27% in 1981, and 13% in 1974).

NJN Opinion Trends *  

Year  

Aware of NJ Public TV  

Have heard of NJN  

Can name NJN  

Watched NJN in past month  

TV with NJ focus very important  

NJN should receive state funding  

2010

79%

85%

23%

51%

58%

58%

1999

81%

89%

20%

59%

56%

62%

1994

78%

75%

20%

56%

59%

51%

1988

80%

69%

12%

36%

-

-

1981

57%

-

-

27%

-

-

1974

-

-

-

13%

-

-

*  Prior results are from surveys conducted by the Eagleton-Rutgers Poll on behalf of the NJ Public Broadcasting Foundation.         

The Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Press Media Poll  was conducted by telephone with 801 New Jersey adults from September 15 to 19, 2010.  This sample has a margin of error of ± 3.5 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute and originally published by the New Jersey Press Media newspaper group (Asbury Park Press, Courier-Post, Courier News, Daily Journal, Daily Record, and Home News Tribune).

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

1.     Do you pay for your television service or do you use an antenna for your TV reception? [IF pay: Which company provides your TV service?]

2.     To the best of your knowledge, is there a public television station currently operating in New Jersey, or not?

3.     Do you happen to know the name of this public television station?  [If YES: What is it called?]  [Note: Results add to more than 100% because multiple responses were accepted] 

4.     Have you ever heard of NJN, which is usually received on channel 23 or 50?

5.     Have you watched NJN in the past month?

6.     NJN has many programs with a New Jersey focus.  How important do you think it is for there to be a television station that has programs that focus on New Jersey – very important, somewhat important, not very important, or not at all important?

7.     Currently, NJN receives some funding from the state of New Jersey.  In your opinion, should New Jersey tax revenues be used to help fund NJN or not?

8.     Have you heard about plans to sell or transfer NJN’s operations to a non-profit organization or another public broadcaster, or have you not heard about this?

9.     Do you approve or disapprove of the sale or transfer of NJN from state government?

10.   Do you think NJN’s coverage of New Jersey issues and topics will get better, get worse, or not change much if it is sold?

The Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Press Media Poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute on September 15-19, 2010 with a statewide random sample of 801 adult residents.  Sampling and live telephone interviewing services were provided by Braun Research, Inc.  For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.  Sampling error increases as the sample size decreases, so statements based on various population subgroups, such as separate figures reported by gender or party identification, are subject to more error than are statements based on the total sample.  In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

It is the Monmouth University Polling Institute’s policy to conduct surveys of all adult New Jersey residents, including voters and non-voters, on issues that affect the state.  Specific voter surveys are conducted when appropriate during election cycles.

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.  

Download this Poll Report with all tables

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