The Newsroom

Is NBC prepping to end affiliation WHDH 7 Boston?

A battle is brewing in Boston. NBC is again at loggerheads with Sunbeam (December 2015)

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BR
Brekkie
I think to those of us non-familar with Boston's local channels the numerous callsigns which all look the same probably just add to the confusion but am I basically right in thinking that a CBS owned local station which is currently affiliated with NBC (for primetime, breakfast and daytime programming) is basically set to lose it's affiliation to a new owned and operated station ran entirely by NBC?

Also you keep talking about NBC dropping to channel 60. I guess there is no protection for the main networks getting lower channel numbers (and quite right the local channel should keep them), but can NBC buy their way to a lower number by trading with other existing channels?

It would be helpful to for an overview of the channels available and their numbers (and on what platform). Wikipedia has this which doesn't really make it clear how far down the pecking order NBC Boston would drop. Also I know the 60.1, 60.2 etc. channels are offshoots of 60, but is that what you have to key in to access them with the remote rather than standard 2 or 3 digit channel numbers?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_television_stations_in_Massachusetts
NY
NYTV
I think to those of us non-familar with Boston's local channels the numerous callsigns which all look the same probably just add to the confusion but am I basically right in thinking that a CBS owned local station which is currently affiliated with NBC (for primetime, breakfast and daytime programming) is basically set to lose it's affiliation to a new owned and operated station ran entirely by NBC?

Also you keep talking about NBC dropping to channel 60. I guess there is no protection for the main networks getting lower channel numbers (and quite right the local channel should keep them), but can NBC buy their way to a lower number by trading with other existing channels?

It would be helpful to for an overview of the channels available and their numbers (and on what platform). Wikipedia has this which doesn't really make it clear how far down the pecking order NBC Boston would drop. Also I know the 60.1, 60.2 etc. channels are offshoots of 60, but is that what you have to key in to access them with the remote rather than standard 2 or 3 digit channel numbers?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_television_stations_in_Massachusetts

Ah, apologies for not being clear on this.
The issue is that an independently owned station will lose the affiliation of NBC and NBC will start up their owned & operated station in Boston.
NY
NYTV
As for the channel number, it is actually based on how powerful the TV Transmitter per the regulations of the FCC (America's Ofcom more or less) on over-the-air Terrestrial television It is not so much the channel number, but the strength of the transmitter broadcasting to the market.
NY
NYTV
I think to those of us non-familar with Boston's local channels the numerous callsigns which all look the same probably just add to the confusion but am I basically right in thinking that a CBS owned local station which is currently affiliated with NBC (for primetime, breakfast and daytime programming) is basically set to lose it's affiliation to a new owned and operated station ran entirely by NBC?

Also you keep talking about NBC dropping to channel 60. I guess there is no protection for the main networks getting lower channel numbers (and quite right the local channel should keep them), but can NBC buy their way to a lower number by trading with other existing channels?

It would be helpful to for an overview of the channels available and their numbers (and on what platform). Wikipedia has this which doesn't really make it clear how far down the pecking order NBC Boston would drop. Also I know the 60.1, 60.2 etc. channels are offshoots of 60, but is that what you have to key in to access them with the remote rather than standard 2 or 3 digit channel numbers?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_television_stations_in_Massachusetts

For the digital subchannels, if you did not have a cable or satellite television package, you could have a digital TV antenna that would automatically pick up the offshoots. The offshoots came to existence follow the U.S. ending analogue transmission
NY
NYTV
I think to those of us non-familar with Boston's local channels the numerous callsigns which all look the same probably just add to the confusion but am I basically right in thinking that a CBS owned local station which is currently affiliated with NBC (for primetime, breakfast and daytime programming) is basically set to lose it's affiliation to a new owned and operated station ran entirely by NBC?

Also you keep talking about NBC dropping to channel 60. I guess there is no protection for the main networks getting lower channel numbers (and quite right the local channel should keep them), but can NBC buy their way to a lower number by trading with other existing channels?

It would be helpful to for an overview of the channels available and their numbers (and on what platform). Wikipedia has this which doesn't really make it clear how far down the pecking order NBC Boston would drop. Also I know the 60.1, 60.2 etc. channels are offshoots of 60, but is that what you have to key in to access them with the remote rather than standard 2 or 3 digit channel numbers?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_television_stations_in_Massachusetts

The TV stations are licensed in one city and can serve the city and surrounding areas within the designated market area (DMA). For example, stations licensed to operated in New York City also serve Northern New Jersey and Connecticut. As for the Boston Television Market, here is the breakdown: Boston is DMA #8 --meaning the eighth-highest Television market in the United States. New York, NY is DMA #1 and Los Angeles, CA is DMA # 2.
All of these channels are available over-the-air and via cable & satellite. Some stations also stream their programming on their websites and phone applications. Digital TV Antennas are also available for purchase to carry all of these stations.
The main network stations are
WGBH PBS 2 (PBS does not own their stations, think ITV pre-Granada/Carlton)
WBZ CBS 4 (owned & operated by CBS)
WCVB ABC 5 (owned by Hearst)
WHDH NBC 7 (owned by Sunbeam; to lose NBC programming in 2017)
WFXT Fox 25 (owned by Cox Media Corp; Previously owned by Fox until 2015)
WUNI Univision 29 (owned by Entravision)
WSBK MyNetworkTV 38 (owned by CBS, forming a duopoly with 4)
WNEU Telemundo 60 (owned by Comcast, owners of NBC Universal and local cable news channel NECN)
WLVI The CW56 (owned by Sunbeam, forming a duopoly with 7)
The reason for the uproar for the possible NBC move to 60 is that 60 is licensed to operate in another state--Merrimack, New Hampshire and every other station in the market is operated within or nearby Boston save for WUNI, which is in Worcester, Mass. WNEU's transmitter signal (not the channel number) is not as strong to serve Boston for those getting TV over-the-air.
Brekkie and Mouseboy33 gave kudos
CH
Charles
^^^

Also worth pointing out New England Cable News, which is a regional news channel that is not available over-the-air, but is owned and operated by NBC and would probably serve as the news department for this new NBC Boston venture.
NY
NYTV
^^^

Also worth pointing out New England Cable News, which is a regional news channel that is not available over-the-air, but is owned and operated by NBC and would probably serve as the news department for this new NBC Boston venture.

It IS being served as the defacto news department as the new NBC Boston, WNEU 60 & NECN share the same building. Plus it is unknown whether WNEU will be the New NBC Boston or not.
OV
Orry Verducci
It would be helpful to for an overview of the channels available and their numbers (and on what platform). Wikipedia has this which doesn't really make it clear how far down the pecking order NBC Boston would drop. Also I know the 60.1, 60.2 etc. channels are offshoots of 60, but is that what you have to key in to access them with the remote rather than standard 2 or 3 digit channel numbers?

Channel numbers for US over the air TV are the same as the VHF/UHF channel the station transmits on. For example, if a station transmits on UHF channel 60, it would be on channel 60 on your TV. This comes from the analogue days, where the idea was the channels on the TV came pretuned to the corresponding VHF/UHF channel, so that it wasn't neccessary to tune the TV like we had to over here.


Since the transition to digital it has become a little more complicated, as the period of analogue/digital simulcasting meant the digital transmissions were given new channels so that the analogue transmissions could continue broadcasting on their existing channel. Because of this, the FCC allowed stations to transmit virtual channel numbers, which digital TVs used to place stations on their existing well known analogue channel numbers rather than their new digital ones. This is still the case today as after the analogue switch off many stations kept their transmissions on their new channels (although some did move them to their old analogue channels). In addition after the analogue switch off the US had a digital dividend auction in which everything above channel 59 was moved down the band to make way for mobile services, just like we did, so virtual numbering was also put into use for those channels.

As digital allows for multiple stations to be transmitted on a single channel, and as the numbers in the US are tied to broadcast channels, they introduced sub channels, which is where the .1, .2, etc, come in. To tune in to those channels you either enter them with the dot on the remote, or select them from the EPG.

Given all of this this, new over the air channels signing on are given their channel number based on their tranmission channel, existing over the air channels from the days of analogue TV are given the channel they used to be. In the case of WNEU in Boston, as they transmitted on channel 60 in the analogue days, they are now permanently assigned to channel 60, even though their transmissions are now actually on channel 34 and their are lots of blank channels lower down.

When it comes to cable and satellite, the situation is different as the channels on them are assigned by the platform operator (same as Sky works here). As a general rule the operators tend to keep stations available OTA on the same channel for simplicity, however NBC could negotiate with the operators to be moved further up. In addition cable and satellite systems don't have sub channels, so for them they're placed on completely different channel numbers, if carried at all, again much like how it works over here.
Brekkie and Mouseboy33 gave kudos
MO
Mouseboy33
When it comes to cable and satellite, the situation is different as the channels on them are assigned by the platform operator (same as Sky works here). As a general rule the operators tend to keep stations available OTA on the same channel for simplicity, however NBC could negotiate with the operators to be moved further up. In addition cable and satellite systems don't have sub channels, so for them they're placed on completely different channel numbers, if carried at all, again much like how it works over here.


Also keep in mind that NBCU is owned by COMCAST one of the largest cable operators in the country. So its highly likely that NBC Boston...if it ends up on Ch60 will be placed better by COMCAST on the EPG. Some stations for marketings purposes used to go solely by the EPG number rather than their actual channel number. I think the NBC San Diego marketed as NBC7 (its actually Ch40) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KNSD and I think NBC Charlotte (historically Ch36) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WCNC-TV did that, but dont quote me on that. Its a highly unusual practice. CBS Atlanta which is on Ch46 dabbled several times with CBS ATLANTA and CBS46 titles over the years. In a vain attempt at downplaying the high channel number.

WHDH owner is going to ramp up the news as predicted. And it doenst seem they will go with a CW affiliation. The CW is currently affiliated with WLVI, WHDH's sister and owned by Sunbeam. Their affiliation with WLVI is up soon as well. CBS owns the CW and they may move that affiliation over to WSBK 38 with is owned by CBS. CBS also owner WBZ 4 as its main CBS station.

But NBC plays hardball in my opinion with their affiliates. KRON 4 losing its affilation to NBC wanting to own its station in Bay Area. Now KRON 4 is an indy.

Here is a nice article about this mess in Variety.
https://variety.com/2016/tv/news/nbc-boston-station-whdh-1201674607/


Last edited by Mouseboy33 on 8 January 2016 4:23am - 2 times in total
MA
mark Founding member
From the Variety piece

Quote:
He also believes NBC intends to broadcast from WNEU, which he said reaches 121% fewer viewers in the Boston area, owing to its New Hampshire transmitter.


Is my maths rubbish, or is that a numerical impossibility? By my reckoning, '121% fewer' would mean WNEU reaching fewer than none of WHDH's audience!
Last edited by mark on 8 January 2016 12:20pm
BR
Brekkie
Thanks for the explanations, especially the channel list from NYTV and Orry Verducci explanation behind the numbering.
NY
NYTV
mark posted:
From the Variety piece

Quote:
He also believes NBC intends to broadcast from WNEU, which he said reaches 121% fewer viewers in the Boston area, owing to its New Hampshire transmitter.


Is my maths rubbish, or is that a numerical impossibility? By my reckoning, '121% fewer' would mean WNEU reaching fewer than none of WHDH's audience!

What that means is, since WNEU is in another state (New Hampshire), their signal is not strong enough to carry into Boston as effective as WHDH who is operated out of Boston. Here is a map from Adweek that shows the coverage area of the two stations
http://www.adweek.com/tvspy/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2016/01/WHDHMap.jpg

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