Ed Ansin, who shook up Boston television with flashy graphics and a breaking news style that has become the normSunbeam Television owns WHDH-WLVI in Boston and WSVN Miami. WHDH became independent after NBC pulled its affiliation after 22 years in 2017. To counteract the loss of network programming, Ansin decided to double down on local news and added staff to WHDH to ensure it would remain competitive as an independent.
WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami owned by Ed Ansin’s Sunbeam Television, has been supporting Feeding South Florida, a local food bank, since the pandemic hit full force in mid-March.
Ed Ansin, owner of Sunbeam Television, which operates WHDH Boston and WSVN Miami, when asked about working at 83, responds: “I’m obsessed with television. I just like it. I want to die with my boots on.”
With Fox looking to add stations in NFL markets, Miami is a prime candidate. And that means Ed Ansin’s WSVN there may be in danger of losing its Fox affiliation. If it does, it would be the third time Ansin has lost a major affiliation. ~~~ Also, I’ve been hearing rumors that Fox is once again pushing the idea that it should represent its affiliates in all retrans negotiation. Is it the second coming of network comp or another sign of the heavy hand of the networks?
Was NBC’s decision to drop Ed Ansin’s WHDH as its Boston affiliate a big mistake? A little more than a year after the bitter divorce, the new NBC10 Boston’s newscasts are struggling to gain an audience, while Ansin’s Channel 7 is often first or second in key time slots.
After having his suit against NBC over loss of NBC affiliation dismissed last month by a federal appeals court judge, WHDH Boston owner Ed Ansin on Wednesday announced: “We filed a notice of appeal with the federal court. We believe the judge got it all wrong, so we are reviewing our options for an appeal.”
Preston Padden was once a network exec whose job was to keep affiliates in line. Today, he’s seeing things differently. The relationship is way out of whack, he says. The networks have too much clout. I tend to agree, but, unlike Padden, I don’t think a solution is to be found in FCC oversight. One alternative may be for small affils to take a page from cable’s book and form a co-op to negotiate collectively with the networks.
Former Fox and ABC network executive Preston Padden calls on the agency and Congress to pressure NBC to cancel plans to dump Ed Ansin’s WHDH as its Boston affiliate so that it can launch its own O&O there at the end of this year. “If this ‘experiment’ is successful, it almost certainly will be repeated in other cities,” Padden says.
Former broadcast lobbyist Preston Padden: “ATSC-3 and SFN’s may be the just what broadcasting needs to prosper in the future. Certainly there are smart and dedicated women and men working hard to make these technologies a reality. However, I would offer a few cautions.” Also, “The [affiliation] dispute between NBC and [WHDH’s] Ed Ansin is unfortunate on many levels. If I was running a network today, I would want him as a part of my distribution platform.”
NBC has announced that it is not renewing its affiliation for WHDH Boston at the end of this year so that it can launch its own station in the market, but WHDH owner Ed Ansin isn’t accepting the news. He’s taken NBC and parent Comcast to court and is convinced he has a strong case for reversing the move. By Ansin’s own reckoning, hundreds of millions in station value are at stake.
If the broadcast networks can behave themselves and demonstrate to the affiliates that they can be trusted in making favorable OTT deals (transparency and no bundling), they may be able to convince the affiliates to tap them as their agents in dealing with the MVPDs on retrans as well.
The owner of WHDH Boston will challenge at the FCC NBC’s plan to let its affiliation with WHDH expire at the end of this year and replace it with an O&O, according to a WHDH release. Ansin will argue that the plan violates an agreement between NBC parent Comcast and the NBC affiliates; that WNEU, the possible home of the NBC O&O, does not fully cover the market; and that the plan will result in “excessive” media concentration in the city.
The new station would start on Jan. 1, 2017, when NBC’s current affiliation with Ed Ansin’s WHDH is set to expire.”We so look forward to delivering Boston area viewers the best local news, weather and information along with the NBC news, sports, primetime and latenight programming they already know and enjoy,” says NBC Owned TV Stations President Valari Staab in a memo to employees.
Ask Ed Ansin, the billionaire owner of current NBC affiliate WHDH Boston, about what’s going on between him and NBC and he’ll tell you. “They are trying to steal our station.”
Speculation that NBC would yank its affiliation with WHDH has been going on for months and NBC has made no secret that it would love an owned and operated NBC affiliate in Boston. The current affiliation agreement between NBC and WHDH ends in December 2016. Sources tell New England One that preparations are being made to move the NBC affiliation away from an Ed Ansin-owned WHDH.
With 14 months left on a decade-long deal between NBC and Ed Ansin’s WHDH Boston, widespread media upheaval could combine with the companies’ contentious history to make the next round of negotiations uncommonly tense, or possibly lead to the first shakeup on the Boston dial in 20 years. One potential result — moving NBC programs to NECN — could even upend the traditional, over-the-air broadcast model employed by national networks since their inception.