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WHDH Says It Won’t Run ‘Leno’

NBC affiliate WHDH Boston says it will run a new newscast at 10 p.m. come fall—at the expense of the new primetime Jay Leno program. The Sunbeam-owned station announced its new 10 p.m. news on its Website.

“Starting in September, you will be able to watch 7NEWS at 10 p.m. on 7NBC,” reads WHDH.com. “For those of you who have a hard time staying awake, Frances Rivera and Kim Khazei will bring you a full hour of local news an hour earlier, followed by 7NEWS at 11.”

WHDH’s move was previously reported on the Boston Globe Website.

The NBC affiliates are to debut the as-yet untitled Leno program in the fall. General managers are mixed on the show—thankful that Leno is not jumping to another network, but fearful the program will post middling ratings and harm their late news ratings.

The NBC affiliates board has a committee dedicated to working with the network to shape the program to help retain viewers for late news—an uncommon concession for affiliates. The board says NBC has been receptive to their input.
Sunbeam owner Ed Ansin told the Globe he felt local news would do better than Leno.

"We feel we have a real opportunity with running the news at 10 p.m. We don't think the Leno show is going to be effective in primetime," he said. "It will be detrimental to our 11 o'clock. It will be very adverse to our finances."

NBC fired back, Network TV President John Eck saying: "WHDH's move is a flagrant violation of the terms of their contract with NBC. 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."

An email to WHDH at presstime was not returned.

Michael Malone
Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.