NBC plans to drop WHDH-TV at year-end
By Associated Press | January 7, 2016, 22:04 EDT
BOSTON (AP) – NBC has announced plans to drop its affiliation with Boston’s WHDH-TV at the end of its current contract in December and launch a network-owned station in the city next January.
NBC said in a memo to employees Thursday that it will build out a local news team. NBC is owned by Comcast and already operates cable-television’s New England Cable News and Spanish-language station Telemundo in the Boston market.
WHDH owner Ed Ansin says he has assembled a legal team to challenge the network’s decision before the Federal Communications Commission.
NBC’s planned TV divorce could violate an agreement Comcast made with the FCC to let the cable giant buy NBC five years ago, Ansin said in a statement posted on Channel 7’s website. “Comcast promised to make sure people could continue to get NBC programming free over the air without being forced to buy cable,” according to the statement.
“They have the right to buy a station, change affiliation. That’s their privilege,” Ansin said.
“They don’t have a right to violate the agreement between Comcast and NBC and the affiliates, and the government,” Ansin said. “This is clearly not in the public interest. They will have half the coverage area of Channel 7. They will reach less than half of the population.”
Ansin says among his concerns are whether it’s in the public interest for NBC to move programming to a station in Merrimack, New Hampshire, that reaches half as many people as WHDH, and doesn’t reach large areas of the South Shore, Southeastern Massachusetts and parts of Cape Cod.
Ansin has taken his concerns to U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, who the station said has told them that he plans to “closely scrutinize” the situation.