The Jersey Access Group (JAG)is a forum for exchanging information that
promotes quality operations for New Jersey’s public, education,and government (PEG) television stations for the purpose of educating and informing the public about their communities.
Brief History of JAG
The Jersey Access Group (JAG) was formed in March of 2000 by a small group of stations that saw a need for open communication between all the cable access stations in New Jersey. From its inception, it was clear that JAG would play a dominant role in the development of New Jersey’s public, educational, and government (PEG) television stations.
JAG began its efforts to unify the member stations by gathering each station’s documentation (Franchise Agreement, Policy and Procedures Manual, and any related forms). Additionally, we looked to establish a mechanism for sharing programs. JAG elected an interim slate of officers, adopted a mission statement and formulated a set of goals. JAG membership consisted of 12 stations representing 222,500 households. JAG also initiated production of a ½ hour magazine show called Access New Jersey.
Access New Jersey
Access New Jersey is a magazine format information show consisting of four segments. Each month four JAG member stations volunteer to contribute to Access New Jersey. Each submits a six-minute story of interest to New Jersey residents. These stories are edited together to form that month’s program. The show is then made available to all JAG member stations for televising in their communities. The series premiered in July of 2000 and reached more then 222,500 homes in New Jersey.
International Award Recognition
Access New Jersey was honored at the annual International Conference of the Alliance for Community Media. Access New Jersey received the 2001 Hometown Video Award in the category of Professional Magazine Format. This category is extremely competitive, with submissions received from stations throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.
JAG’s Second Year
During the first quarter of 2001 JAG adopted bylaws for the Jersey Access Group, elected officers and established four standing committees (Executive, Financial, Production, and External Relations). JAG also premiered its web site: www.jagonline.org including a special Members Only Database; its e-mail address (JAGinfo@jagonline.org), and a members only e-mail address which is linked to all member stations. JAG’s membership reached 20 stations representing 350,000 homes.
Developing a Relationship with The League of Municipalities
JAG then focused on establishing a relationship with the New Jersey League of Municipalities. The development of this relationship makes it possible for JAG to communicate with all the municipalities through their newsletters and articles in the League of Municipalities’ magazine. At the annual League of Municipalities Conference, we participated in a seminar on cable television and had representatives at a table during the Consulting Period.
JAG’s Third Year
The web site was expanded to contain Shows to Share, Subscribers List, and Vendor Lists, and JAG has begun work on a Station Equipment Inventories section. The application to join JAG and a Station Questionnaire are now available on the web site. We also developed an Information Book CD that contains member station documentation and is provided to all members of JAG. This information is invaluable to members who are developing policies and procedures for their stations or are entering re-franchising negotiations. By the end of 2002 JAG’s membership had grown to 32 stations representing 487,000 homes.
JAG produced a promotional video showing the diverse scope of our member stations, a brochure outlining the benefits of joining JAG, and a display about JAG that can be used in support of JAG presentations. JAG also conducted a session at the League of Municipalities Annual Conference titled Developing Your PEG Station and had representatives present during the Consulting Period to answer questions about PEG station development. JAG representatives also consulted at the New Jersey School Board Conference. JAG became a member of the Alliance for Community Media.
Questions and Issues
An hour has been set aside at each meeting to discuss issues and answer questions raised by members. Operational topics have included hiring vs. volunteers, franchise fees and who gets the money, the televising of religious programs, staffing, and the Public Information Act’s effect on taping. We have also discussed equipment related issues including editing systems, cameras, video switchers, automated programming, and old equipment disposition.
Ad Hoc Committees
Five ad hoc committees were formed to handle issues of importance to JAG: Emergency Management (to evaluate a proactive role in the states EMS), League of Municipalities (to develop presentations at annual conferences), JAG regions (to help establish JAG regional groups throughout the state), New Jersey School Board Association (to develop presentations for annual conferences), and Codey Bill Summit (to participate in any meetings held on cable service in NJ).
We have invited manufacturers to demonstrate new technologies at JAG meetings. These have included the Scala bulletin board system and the Videotizer (an automatic programming system).
More recently our meetings have focused on:
• How stations can take a pro-active roll in their community’s Amber Alert System
• Evaluating how PEG stations can support the Emergency Management System
• Developing a database of all the PEG stations in New Jersey
• Providing additional equipment presentations on the latest technologies
• Creating three regions to accommodate JAG’s growth. (North, Central and South)
• Pursuing additional members throughout the state of New Jersey
• Expanding awareness of JAG through presentations at other conferences