WHDH-TV files lawsuit against Comcast regarding NBC affiliation

A major announcement was made Thursday involving NBC and WHDH-TV.  

Station owner Ed Ansin filed a federal lawsuit Thursday morning against Comcast, the parent company of NBC. The move comes after NBC notified WHDH it was ending the 22-year affiliation.

"Comcast has a reputation for pushing the envelope wherever they can but they’ve just done an awful lot of things wrong here," Ansin said.

NBC said it plans to air its programs on a signal broadcast from WNEU-TV in Merrimack, New Hampshire. But as the map below — based on FCC information — shows, that signal doesn’t reach half of the city of Boston and millions of viewers farther south.

A large number of those viewers live in underserved and predominantly minority communities, including Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, Brockton and Worcester. WHDH’s signal reaches all of those viewers.

"The NBC signal will only cover less than half of what the WHDH Channel 7 signal will cover. So you have more than half of the television market unable to get NBC off air if this situation continues," said Ansin.

Ansin said Comcast’s plan violates the conditions the FCC put in place when it allowed the cable giant to buy NBC five years ago.

Comcast assured the FCC people would continue to get NBC programming free over the air without being forced to buy cable.

"It is consolidating its power in a way we believe will disadvantage viewers through higher prices and less coverage," said WHDH Attorney Mike Gass.

 The lawsuit also contends that Comcast is violating antitrust laws.

"I think we have a very good shot because of the commitments that Comcast made both to its affiliates and the FCC in getting approval of this transaction which created the largest cable and broadcasting company in the world. These were precisely the types of things people were concerned about," said Gass. 

In a statement, NBC Universal said:

"NBC has had a long, mutually successful relationship with Sunbeam, which is expiring under the agreed-upon terms of WHDH’s affiliation contract at the end of the year. We are disappointed that Sunbeam has chosen to file this meritless lawsuit, and that it has chosen to do so by constructing baseless claims against our parent company."

Read the news release from WHDH-TV here.

Read the entire lawsuit here.

See a map of WHDH-TV over-the-air signal versus WNEU-TV over-the-air signal here.

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