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Jul 24, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) and Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced a bill today to ensure New Jersey residents have greater access to local television news.  The Eliminating Local News Deserts Act of 2020 would mandate cable companies carry television stations that provide quality local news programming along with other requirements.  It would require stations that qualify to provide a minimum of 19 hours of local news programming per week to benefit all residents of a state.

For too long, New Jersey residents have only received their local coverage from stations in New York or Philadelphia,” said Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr.  “We need stations that cover New Jersey-based stories and issues from a local angle.  It is about time our state got regional coverage.” 

“This legislation aims to correct a long-standing problem and help ensure that New Jersey residents can more easily access local New Jersey television news,” said Congressman Chris Smith.  “Local and state-oriented news programming is extremely important and it should not be difficult for New Jersey residents to tap into newscasts we may prefer because of an in-depth and/or local New Jersey information perspective.” 

New Jersey's situation is unique in the nation.  It is the only state with such a high population and no local news-oriented network affiliates.  In addition, New Jersey is home to a wide array of critical infrastructure that need local coverage, such as a vibrant seaport, one of the nation's busiest international airports, and large sections of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. 

Rep. Payne’s bill would allow television stations that produce local New Jersey news content to be available on major cable provider platforms. That way, all New Jersey residents can access local content from a station located in their state. 

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