NBC Hungry for Boston Market?
Amidst Leno flap, network may launch O&Oin place of WHDH
By Michael Malone -- Broadcasting & Cable, 4/6/2009 2:00:00 AM
Call it the Boston Jay Party. NBC is threatening to strip WHDH Boston of its affiliation after the Sunbeam-owned station said it will launch a 10 p.m. newscast in the fall—in place of the new Jay Leno program. The network suggests it will take over the NBC affiliation there if WHDH carries out its plan.
NBC TV Network President John Eck called the move “a flagrant violation” of WHDH's contract with the network. “We have a number of other strong options in the Boston market,” he said in a statement, “including using our existing broadcast license to launch an NBC owned-and-operated station.”
One scenario would see NBC air network programming on its Telemundo affiliate WNEU and run Telemundo on a digital channel.
Affiliates are thankful that Leno is not jumping to another network, but fearful the program will post middling ratings and harm late-news viewership. Time will tell if other stations stand with WHDH in defiance of the network.
The NBC affiliates board remains committed to Leno. “We've been engaged in an open dialogue with NBC about the format of the show,” says chairman Michael Fiorile. “We're looking forward to working with Jay and the entire team to make it a huge success.”
Sunbeam/WHDH would not comment on the matter.
If NBC were to go with WNEU instead of buying WSBK, I'd like to see them also convert their 37% owned WWDP into an affiliate so areas south of Boston would have an OTA HD signal. Both WNEU and WWDP could air the entirely same content in much the way that Boston's ION channel is simulcasted by full power transmitters in New Hampshire and Cape Cod so as to cover all of the Boston DMA.
The nearest NBC HD signal south of Boston, WJAR in Providence, has a signal pattern that does not provide for reception in Brockton, where I live and am posting from.
Aaron Reed - 4/7/2009 10:39:01 AM EDT
An interesting scenario could be WSBK-TV in Boston. It's currently owned by Viacom and is WBZ-TV's (also Viacom O&O) sister station in the market. WSBK was once a shinning example of the independent local station along the lines of WTBS or WWOR. It was an UPN station at one point too. In the 90's WBZ-TV switched from NBC to CBS affiliation and it took them 12 plus years to recover at the local news level. I'm sure WHDH-TV is well aware of the history.
Today, WSBK-TV is once again independent but lacks a true identity in my opinion. There is no local news there (tried and failed several times), so very few feathers would be ruffled if NBC just moved in and started from scratch.
Eric - 4/6/2009 7:36:01 AM EDT
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