Sunbeam’s Ed Ansin, WHDH Contesting NBC’s O&O Plans in Boston

WHDH is not going down without a fight. The Sunbeam Television-owned Boston station’s affiliation agreement with NBC is set to expire Dec. 31, 2016, and B&C has already reported that NBCU will launch an O&O in the market Jan. 1, 2017. Station owner Edmund Ansin is contesting NBC’s plans.

The move is not in the public’s interest, he said. According to a press release issued Thursday, “under NBC’s plan to use WNEU in New Hampshire to serve the Boston market, more 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.”

NBC did not confirm that the new station will use the signal of WNEU, its Telemundo O&O in Boston; the company said it is exploring different options.

“One of my concerns is that it’s unclear of what the future of NBC will be in the city of Boston,” said Boston mayor Mayor Marty Walsh in the release. “If it’s going to be part of a package where people have to pay for it, right now it’s free.”

Ansin argues that, with NBC’s extensive media properties in the area, “the result is excessive concentration of media control.” In addition, he contends that an NBC O&O would violate an agreement between Comcast, NBC and NBC TV affiliates, part of the decision that approved the Comcast-NBCU merger.