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NBC Moves To Cut Ties With WHDH And Establish Its Own Boston Station

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WHDH's headquarters in downtown Boston.
Patrick Mannion / Flickr

It’s official: NBC is pulling its affiliation from WHDH-TV—that word comes from an internal NBC Universal memo obtained by WGBH News.

The move comes after a years-long battle between NBC and Sunbeam Television Corp. of Miami and its owner Ed Ansin. NBC wants an owned-and-operated station in Boston and offered to buy WHDH from Sunbeam, but Ansin has refused to sell.

Now NBC says it’s pulling its affiliation from Sunbeam when the contract expires at the end of this year. NBC's new station will be based at its NECN studios in Newton and may broadcast over its local Telemundo station, WNEU.

In a memo to staff NBC Universal President Valerie Staab said they've already acquired programming for the new station including Harry Connick Jr.'s new daytime show and Access Hollywood.

For his part, Ansin says he will vigorously challenge the move in court.

The following is the internal memo from Staab:

Dear Colleagues:

I wanted to let you know about an exciting development in our division: NBCUniversal will be launching an NBC-owned station in Boston on January 1, 2017. This will be the 12th NBC station in our group, following last year’s launch of NBC Puerto Rico, which was station #11. As you know, the NBCUniversal Owned Stations division also includes 17 Telemundo stations and a regional cable news network, necn, which serves all of New England.

Since necn joined our division over two years ago, the network has been transformed thanks to a very significant investment by Comcast NBCUniversal. We’ve built a brand new, state-of-the-art studio and a brighter, more modern newsroom; upgraded our tools and technology; refocused the network’s mission on breaking news and weather coverage; hired a seasoned news management team; boosted live news coverage; introduced a news app; and launched an investigative and consumer unit. Telemundo Boston now has access to necn’s new, state-of-the-art facility and the station introduced its first-ever live local newscast this past summer, with two 30-minute weeknight Spanish-language newscasts at 6 and 11 PM and a talented team of journalists offering Spanish-speaking viewers in the Boston area a choice in local television news for the very first time. The teams at necn and Telemundo Boston are doing a great job.

With these investments in necn and Telemundo Boston, we have built a very strong news organization in the Boston market – both from a personnel and facilities perspective – which puts us in a great position to launch an NBC-owned station locally. Over the next year, we will be ramping up to prepare for the launch of our new station, including adding significantly to our local team. Today, I am proud to announce that Mike St. Peter, General Manager of necn and Telemundo Boston, has agreed to lead our new NBC station, too, as President, NBC Boston, necn and Telemundo Boston.

With the work we’ve done over the last two years plus the future investments we have planned, we will soon have the best television newsroom in the region – with two major broadcast network outlets – NBC Boston and Telemundo Boston – that can reach viewers in both English and Spanish and a 24x7 news network – necn – that reaches viewers throughout New England.

To be clear, the new NBC-owned station will be a broadcast channel available to over-the-air viewers like our other NBC and Telemundo stations, not a cable-only channel as has been publicly speculated. Additionally, we are committed to expanding our over-the-air coverage of the market and are currently looking at a variety of options to accomplish that.

We are excited by the possibilities. We’ve already acquired Harry Connick, Jr.’s new daytime entertainment show, Harry, to anchor NBC Boston’s daytime lineup, as well as the popular Access Hollywood Live, which will air weekday afternoons, and Access Hollywood to air in the evenings before NBC’s primetime programming. We so look forward to delivering Boston area viewers the best local news, weather and information along with the NBC news, sports, primetime and late night programming they already know and enjoy.

As always, feel free to reach out with questions and comments. Thank you for your dedication and for the hard work you do each and every day.

Best Regards,

Valari Staab

President, NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations

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