Ansin Will Fight For NBC Boston Affiliation

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.

WHDH Boston owner Ed Ansin will fight NBC’s plan to dump WHDH as its Boston affiliate when their contract expires at the end of this year and replace it with a new owned-and-operated station, according to a WHDH press release.

NBC’s plans violate an agreement between NBC parent Comcast and its affiliates that was struck when Comcast was seeking to win government approval of its acquisition of NBC Universal in 2011, the release says.

Convinced that the new NBC station will share the broadcast channel of NBC’s Telemundo station, WNEU, Ansin will also argue that NBC’s plan is not in the public interest because WNEU’s signal does not cover the entire market.

“[M]ore than 50% of the people who currently receive NBC programming  free over-the-air will not be able to watch NBC programming, unless they pay for cable or satellite,” the release says.

In announcing its plans to launch a Boston O&O earlier Thursday, NBC did not say what broadcast channel it would use, but WNEU is one obvious option.

The release also says that Ansin will contend that NBC’s plan would result “in excessive concentration of media control” by NBC in the market.

BRAND CONNECTIONS

In addition to WNEU, NBC’s Boston holdings include NECN, a 24/7 cable news channel.


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M Corte says:

January 8, 2016 at 2:18 am

WHDH-TV does broadcast on UHF at the maximum 1,000kw power. WNEU only broadcasts at 80kw on UHF and is further away to receive. NBC surely would have to boost this low signal. Why is NBC so unhappy with WHDH anyway? They clear all NBC programs. At least WHDH, doesn’t broadcast on one of these low power VHF signals that many former analog VHF stations do now thinking people can pick up their signal.

Wagner Pereira says:

January 8, 2016 at 5:01 am

I certainly hope whoever wrote the PR “legal” arguments is not the lawyer defending Ansin.”….not in the Public Interest as WNEU’s signal does not cover the entire market”. WNEU is licensed to Merrimack, New Hampshire, not the entire Boston Market, and serves its City of License in the Public Interest. The FCC does not involve itself in Programming, only ownership and operating in the Public Interest to the city of license. “excessive concentration of media control”? NBC is not gaining any additional stations. Comcast is not picking up any additional MVPDs. There is no drop in number of License Owners. There will still be 11 MVPD in the Boston DMA. You really think the FCC is going to tell a licensee they cannot put Programming they own on a license they own? ROFLMAO. Either a 5th Grader came up with these arguments – or a 1st grade dropout (Mac John). Yes, Ansin is getting screwed, but this is clearly an attempt to get NBCU to ante up more money to buy him out – regardless of what he claims about not selling (just like Media General said they were not for sale).

    Wagner Pereira says:

    January 8, 2016 at 5:03 am

    And btw, NBCU could actually claim they are REDUCING their Media Presence in the Market as WNEU does not have the coverage of WHDH.

    Keith ONeal says:

    January 9, 2016 at 12:46 am

    Maybe if NBC added another $100 Million to their offer for WHDH, would Ansin/Sunbeam say yes and sell the station?

Joe Jaime says:

January 8, 2016 at 9:03 am

This could be interesting “Ed vs Comcast” remember the FCC loves cable

    Brad Dann says:

    January 8, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    Ed will go to the FCC, but he’ll also go to Congress, who will tell the FCC what to do at the threat of funding being cut off. This will get very ugly for Comcast/NBC.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    January 8, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    FCC does not regulate OTA programming / affiliation agreements. They look at the is the license holder operating in the Public Interest, Convenience and Necessity, which NBCU is doing with WNEU-TV.

    Andrea Rader says:

    January 8, 2016 at 7:15 pm

    The DOJ would have any possibl regulatory authority over this matter. Comcast is still under a Consent Decree as a result of the takeover of NBC Universal.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    January 8, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    Correct. But read the Consent Decree. There is nothing about pulling Network Affiliation from a station – much less pulling it to put on an O&O. Again, as it’s NBCU’s programming, no one is going to say they do not have the right not to put it on their own licensed station.

    Andrea Rader says:

    January 8, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    I don’t think the DOJ considered this scenario when they drafted the Consent Decree, and from a technical standpoint this use of leverage appears not to fall under its terms. Perhaps this is why Ansin is pressing the coverage issue in its petition to the FCC.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    January 9, 2016 at 7:34 am

    Again, FCC has nothing to say about who gets Network Affiliation. Reread what I posted above. And if DOJ did not consider this scenario, then Comcast is not bound to it. The reason it is not in the consent agreement is the Government is not going to tell a Company they cannot utilize their own work that they pay for.

Shenee Howard says:

January 8, 2016 at 10:30 am

Although in the end I belideve NBC buys 7 or 56, his argument about southern area of Boston will not receive an OTA NBC signal is partly false, as WJAR in Providence overlaps in that area. Just like in Providence 2, 4, 5, 7, 38, 56 etc. can be seen over the air. Cable coverage is separate. This was the approach with the Ch. 6 allocation in Miami, which transmitted far south of Miami and did not cover all of Broward County. CBS, when they first bought Ch. 6 (prior to the complicated swap with NBC and Ch. 4 after they bought that station) depended on the CBS affiliate in West Palm Beach for northern Broward County coverage.

    M Corte says:

    January 8, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    This is exactly what I was thinking looking at the digital coverage maps. WJAR NBC 10 in Providence reaches Boston and their signal provides coverage in the south area where WNEU does not. In this case you can’t really say an NBC signal won’t be available over the air. WNEU only broadcasts at 80kw while WJAR broadcasts the maximum 1,000kw UHF, so I don’t know if WNEU could receive a power boost in coverage to help. Regardless, NBC will be available over the air on WNEU or WHDH in the area.

    Keith ONeal says:

    January 9, 2016 at 12:54 am

    They may watch NBC from the Providence station if they want to, but they want their local news from their local Boston market, not the further away Providence market.

Doug Halonen says:

January 8, 2016 at 11:18 am

Here is the question: Does Comcast have a significant cable presence in the areas of the Boston DMA that would not be served by a lower power transmitter located in New Hampshire? If it does, it means a greater possibility that such a move by NBCU would deter cord cutters and contribute to Comcast’s subscription revenue. This is all speculation because NBCU has not said how they intend to broadcast their new “channel.” Perhaps this is an opening salvo in a bid to buy WHDH? On the face of it, going the sub-channel route would seem to be a mistake in a market as large as Boston. It runs the risk of diminishing the audience for NBC in the same way that Larry Tisch’s silly swap in Miami damaged CBS. People aren’t going to watch what they can’t see. It is worth noting that several years ago NBC sold its O&O in Providence, RI (WJAR) to Sinclair. Providence stations cover a big chunk of the Boston market. I’d bet that Citadel would sell WLNE to NBCU for the right price. Bottom line: The other shoe has not yet dropped.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    January 8, 2016 at 11:27 am

    There are 11 MVPDs in the Boston DMA including Comcast. As far as cable only, Boston has the 5th highest cable penetration % in the country, at 81.6%.

    Keith ONeal says:

    January 9, 2016 at 1:10 am

    (1) NBC could buy WHDH if “The Price Is Right.” Add $100 Million to your current offer and see what Ansin/Sunbeam says. (2) if NBC wants to move to WNEU, they would either apply to the FCC for a power boost, or to add translators so its signal can reach Boston. (3) As for NECN, that is NOT an option. NECN is a Cable channel that serves many markets in the New England area. (and each market has its own NBC affiliate). NBC is a Broadcast Network which means its programming can only air on Broadcast Stations per FCC rules.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    January 9, 2016 at 7:36 am

    Wrong on so many counts.

Cassie Macker says:

January 8, 2016 at 3:44 pm

In the steam age of TV, (the 1950s) NBC under its then ownership pulled the same maneuver on then Westinghouse in Boston. Swap your Philadelphia station with our Cleveland, a smaller and less desirable market, or you lose NBC at your Boston station. Westinghouse had to agree but spent a decade in litigation which ended up reversing the deal, and getting their Philadelphia station back. Don McGannon of Westinghouse and his lawyer John Lane didn’t like guns to their head, who does, but they had the courage (and money) to fight back. Big always wins against small unless somebody fights back. Has anyone noticed that the more things change the more they stay the same?


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