Boston NBC Affiliate WHDH Balks at Leno

NEW YORK WHDH, Sunbeam Television’s NBC affiliate in Boston, won’t air Jay Leno’s show when it moves to 10 p.m. this fall.

Instead, according to several reports, the station will air an hour-long local newscast to go head to head with WFXT, Fox’s owned-and-operated station, followed by WHDH’s current half-hour local newscast at 11 p.m.

Since NBC decided to move Leno to prime time, affiliates have expressed concern that NBC might be throwing in the towel on that viewing period at the expense of a strong lead-in for their affiliates’ local news.

Recently, the NBC affiliates board decided to launch a study to figure out how Leno at 10 p.m. could be formatted to drive viewers to the local newscasts.

But that apparently isn’t enough for WHDH. “We don’t think the Leno show is going to be effective in prime time,” said Ed Ansin, owner of Sunbeam, quoted in The Boston Globe. “It will be detrimental to our 11 p.m. newscast. It will be very adverse to our finances.”

NBC is not pleased.

“WHDH’s move is a flagrant violation of the terms of their contract with NBC,” said John Eck, president of NBC TV, in a statement. “If they persist, we will strip WHDH of its NBC affiliation. We have a number of other strong options in the Boston market, including using our existing broadcast license to launch an NBC owned-and-operated station.”

To do that, NBC would need to switch WNEU from a Telemundo owned-and-operated station to an NBC O&O.

Source: Mediaweek.com