Hill Dems Weigh In on Comcast Plan to Drop Hearst Stations

(Image credit: Future Media)

Four Massachusetts legislators have called on Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and Hearst president Jordan Wertlieb to negotiate in good faith and resolve their carriage dispute such that ABC affiliate WCVB Boston stays on Comcast's system serving Bristol County, Massachusetts, residents.

Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren and Reps. William Keating and Joseph P. Kennedy III wrote the pair saying they were not taking sides, but simply encouraging them to resolve the issue so that Bristol County residents continue to get important emergency information and local news and sports, particularly given the importance of local information during the pandemic.

Comcast has said that on Dec. 22 it will drop Hearst-owned stations in 38 markets where cable subs have access to two affiliates of the same network. That move was outlined in a memo to subs and mainly affects towns and suburbs between major markets.

Bristol residents also have access to ABC affiliate WLNE Providence, R.I.

"The loss of this channel will prevent Bristol County residents from viewing a critical source of Massachusetts news and information over their set-top boxes," the legislators wrote. "Particularly during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, loss of access to this station would be harmful to Bristol County viewers who rely on state-specific announcements to stay healthy and safe."

Daniel Frankel contributed to this story.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.