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Princeton TV Letter

March 18, 2019

Dear Princeton Council and Mayor,

I am writing on behalf of the League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area because I understand that Princeton Community TV may no longer be funded.  This would be a significant blow to the League's ability to inform voters about candidates at four levels of government.  I am unable to attend the April 8th public hearing on the budget, so I ask that you read the following statement from the League.

Since 2010, and at the invitation of George McCollough, the League has collaborated with Princeton TV to videotape and broadcast League forums.  We have covered all Princeton Mayoral races and Democratic primary races for Princeton Council, the contested races for Princeton Council and school board, the Mercer County Freeholder and County Executive race of 2011, the 16th Legislative District races of 2011, 2013, and 2015, and the 12th Congressional races of 2014 and 2016.  (Go to http://www.lwvprinceton.org/voters-guides/archives to see the full list.)

This year the League plans to hold forums for the Democratic primary race, the Princeton Council and school board races if they are contested, the Mercer County Executive and Freeholder races, and the 16th Legislative District race if parties/candidates agree to participate.  I cannot imagine taking on this public service without the co-sponsorship of Princeton Community TV.

Voters want to watch these forums.  I've received requests for the broadcast schedule before it's published because some voters are eager to watch a forum with their spouse in the comfort of their TV room.   As to video, over 5000 voters viewed, at least in part, the Lempert/Woodbridge mayoral debate.  We often garner over 2000 voters watching a given race, and every year the League's forums rank either 9 or 10 as the most-watched programs on Princeton TV in October and November (even though there are very few days in November before an election).

George McCollough not only videotapes the forums but adds a title and introductory information and then places the name and website of the candidates on screen as they speak.  I can trust him to adhere to League policy and never edit anything while producing his professional product.  The forums are then broadcast to a viewing area that includes other municipalities in the 16th Legislative and 12th Congressional Districts, and the video is posted on Vimeo.

The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area does not have the money to hire a videographer or rent the equipment needed to videotape, polish, and post its forums.  One of our members does videotape, but the League has relied on Princeton Community TV to loan us the equipment needed at the forum itself and to do the polishing and posting at the studio.  A forum for the 14th Legislative District, which includes Plainsboro, a town within the Princeton Area League, was produced this way.

Princeton Community TV has performed a public service to voters since it first suggested broadcasting League forums nine years ago.  It has greatly increased the Princeton Area League's outreach and impact; other local Leagues are envious.  The data show that voters have come to rely on this public service.  Those voters are not just Princeton residents but include voters in Mercer County, the 12th Congressional District, and adjacent legislative districts.  Without broadcast and video, the League cannot reach them.  The loss of Princeton Community TV would be devastating to the League's mission of informing voters about their candidates.

Sincerely,

Chrystal Schivell, Voter Service, League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area
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