This morning the Press of Atlantic City reported that WMGM-TV40, otherwise known as NBC40, will soon be losing its affiliation with the national broadcaster. Based in Linwood, the channel has been an NBC affiliate for decades, but the corporation’s desire to consolidate channels in its operating markets is forcing the channel, which serves Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland counties, to rethink its future.
Though this news most directly affects those in the viewing area, the implications of South Jersey losing its only locally-based TV news organization (NBC40 News airs twice nightly) are important. Most of (and after this, all of) South Jersey, much like North Jersey, receives its national affiliate channels through the larger metropolitan market it is located in. Our ABC, CBS, and NBC channels come from Philadelphia like North Jersey’s come from New York. But unlike North Jersey’s News 12, South Jersey has no TV channel dedicated to highlighting news and events in its communities. Coverage of our towns comes at the whim of media outlets based in Philadelphia and Bala Cynwyd.
While this is fairly normal for a multi-state region like ours, what it means in real terms is that the things that happen to over 2 million people in seven counties receives a minimum of coverage. There are only so many minutes in a newscast, and the Pennsylvania side of the Philadelphia metropolitan region is larger than the New Jersey side, meaning that side gets the concentration of the coverage.
What I would like to see is WMGM to amplify its signal and become South Jersey’s news channel, received in all 7 counties. This would preserve coverage of our communities and help maintain and bolster our sense of community and identity, which is sometimes trivialized by both North Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania. We have stories to tell, and losing our only dedicates news outlet, even with its current minimal reach, is a shame for the region.