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 Television’s owned-and-operated station, followed by WHDH’s current half-hour local newscast at 11:00 p.m.
Since NBC decided to move Leno to prime time, affiliates have expressed concern that NBC might be throwing in the towel on prime time 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 o-clock newscast. It will be very adverse to our finances.”
NBC isn’t not pleased.
“WHDH’s move is a flagrant violation of the terms of their contract with NBC,” John Eck, president of NBC Television Network said 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.