Can NBC and Ansin cut a deal?

NBC said it plans to part ways with WHDH-TV (Channel 7 ) at the end of this year, but it’s unclear whether the breakup is really going to happen or the saber-rattling between the network and the station is a prelude to some sort of deal.

The Peacock network wants to own its own station in Boston, the nation’s eighth-largest TV market. But Ed Ansin, the owner of Channel 7, doesn’t want to sell, at least at the $200 million price NBC was reportedly offering. The two sides have a history of bad blood; NBC in the 1980s moved its programming from an Ansin-owned station in Miami to an outlet owned by the network. The move forced Ansin to jump to Fox, an option not available today in Boston.

Both sides in this battle have incentives to negotiate. Ansin’s channel won’t be worth much without any network programming and NBC won’t have many attractive station options if it can’t purchase Channel 7. If a deal can’t be cut with Ansin, most expect the network would move its programming to WNEU-TV (Channel 60), which NBC’s parent company, Comcast, owns. But that station’s transmitter is in New Hampshire and its over-the-air signal barely reaches Boston, according to Federal Communications Commission maps.

Ansin says the inadequate signal will mean many viewers without cable will lose access to NBC programming, which he says might form the basis for a challenge to NBC’s move in the courts or before the FCC. His station wasted little time in whipping up public sentiment against NBC’s move. “Some of your favorite NBC programs may be disappearing from your TV screens now that the network has announced plans to end its affiliate relationship with WHDH-TV at the end of this year,” WHDH announced on screen.

NBC officials said they are already assembling daytime programming and a news team and plan to also utilize the staff at NECN, the Newton-based cable news channel owned by Comcast. In a memo to NECN staffers, NBC executive Valerie Straub said the network also plans on “expanding our over-the-air coverage of the market and are currently looking at a variety of options to accomplish that.” The memo did not elaborate on the options.

WBUR’s David Boeri, a TV veteran himself, reported that the dispute is all about money. He quotes Jim Coppersmith, a former TV station general manager, as saying a deal will be done. “When the bluster is over,” Coppersmith said, “I think at the 59th second or earlier one of the two of them is going to blink and NBC will remain on Channel 7 in Boston. That’s my prediction.”

The Boston Herald, which took no interest in the Boston Globe’s delivery debacle this week, jumped big time into the TV war with a front-page story. But Herald columnist Howie Carr said he doesn’t think anyone cares what happens to NBC programming or Channel 7, where he notes he used to work.

“Channel 7 is the station where the late Jack Cole once described the nightly newscast as ‘alleged news,’” Carr writes. “It’s more alleged than ever and, again, that’s no knock on anybody on the payroll there. They’re just doing what’s expected of them, just like I used to do.”

BRUCE MOHL

 

BEACON HILL

A Beacon Hill switcheroo: How a bill capping MBTA fares at 5 percent every two years went into conference committee and came out with a one-word change that boosted the cap to 10 percent. (CommonWealth)

Gov. Charlie Baker is likely to face a tougher second year, writes the Globe’s David Scharfenberg, with new battles that he may lose and pressure to show real results on some of the fix-it projects he has taken on. Frank Phillips sizes up the 2016 challenges facing Baker, Senate President Stan Rosenberg, and Speaker Robert DeLeo. (Boston Globe)

A ballot question this fall that would mandate that only eggs from cage-free hens be sold in the state would almost certainly raise the price of eggs. (Boston Globe)

State lawmakers consider special markings for fake guns. (WBUR)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, state Rep. Marcos Devers, and Northern Essex Community College President Lane Glenn are preparing to head to the Dominican Republic for five days to strengthen education and cultural ties with the Caribbean nation. (Eagle-Tribune)

An explosion at a Dow Chemical plant in North Andover injures four. (Associated Press)

An editorial in The Sun says cash-strapped Dracut is on the right track in seeking to collect a $250-a-year trash fee from residents. A Gloucester Times editorial laments how trash dumping in the city is on the rise.

CASINOS/GAMBLING

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s federally recognized status became official today as the US Department of Interior posted the reservation proclamation on the Federal Register, a key benchmark that now makes the land eligible for a casino. (Cape Cod Times)

Don’t be fooled by the Powerball’s $700 million jackpot, the biggest in history. It’s actually only $428.4 million for the cash option and, in Massachusetts, $299.9 million after federal and state taxes. But that’s not stopping folks from dreaming about winning the Saturday night drawing. (Standard-Times) Keller@Large wonders if it’s really worth it to hit that big a jackpot.

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

President Obama blasts the NRA for skipping a town hall on guns on CNN. (Associated Press) In a New York Times oped, Obama says he will not campaign for any candidate who does not support “common sense gun reform.” US Sen. Elizabeth Warren says it time to act on gun violence. (CommonWealth)

A Republican lawmaker in Missouri files legislation that would require lobbyists to disclose as a “gift” any sex they have with lawmakers or their staff. (Governing)

ELECTIONS

Jeb Bush makes the case that Donald Trump is not a conservative and possibly a closet Democrat. (Time)

Peter Gelzinis says there is a “beautiful reptilian symmetry” to the battle brewing between Trump and Ted Cruz. (Boston Herald)

Sen. John McCain, whose own citizenship was challenged when he ran for president in 2008, says questions raised by Trump about Cruz’s place of birth are legitimate issues in the campaign. (Associated Press)

In an op-ed in the Globe, Hillary Clinton spotlights the high stakes the presidential election holds for the Supreme Court.

Clinton expressed “surprise” in 2011 that a subordinate used a private email for government correspondence, according to a new batch of documents released early Friday. (National Review)

State Sen. Jamie Eldridge endorses Bernie Sanders in this post on Blue Mass Group.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

After a barrage of backlash, the IRS withdrew a controversial proposal to have nonprofits turn over donors’ personal information to the tax-collecting agency. (Chronicle of Philanthropy)

Despite talk of recovery, foreclosures in Massachusetts rose more than 40 percent in November over the same period a year ago, with Plymouth County foreclosures tripling. (Patriot Ledger)

EDUCATION

Andover Schools Superintendent Sheldon Berman is seeking a 4.6 percent increase in his budget, an amount he says is not enough to hire 26 more teachers that are needed. Town  Manager Andrew Flanagan has recommended just a 2.8 percent increase. (Eagle-Tribune)

Boston school police have made 58 arrests since the start of the school year. (Boston Herald)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A state medical panel approved new rules that would require documentation of each time a surgeon enters or leaves an operating room during surgery. (Boston Globe)

Massachusetts launches a partnership aimed at boosting the digital health sector. (WBUR)

The state Department of Public Health holds a hearing in Lynn on plans by Partners HealthCare to change the focus of Union Hospital. (The Item)

TRANSPORTATION

Massport wants to add 5,000 parking spots at Logan Airport. (State House News)

The tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike between Route 128 and the New York border could come down next year when the Turnpike bonds are paid off, but state officials say they will recommend keeping the tolls in place because additional money will need to be borrowed to keep the road in good repair. (Telegram & Gazette)

The NAACP and Uber come out against a proposal being pushed by law enforcement requiring Uber drivers to be fingerprinted. (Boston Globe)

The T may explore discounted fares for low-income riders, but any such change won’t happen for at least a year. (Boston Globe)

Speaker Robert DeLeo isn’t wild about the idea of a T fare increase. (Boston Herald)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A 29-year-old Haverhill man died while in custody in a transport van outside the Bridgewater Correctional Complex which was in lockdown following a “small riot” inside the treatment facility. (The Enterprise)

The number of inmates in the custody of the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department has fallen 36 percent over the last decade and may fall more when a new drug court opens and diverts more offenders into treatment programs. (Masslive)

A Supreme Judicial Court decision that toughens the standard used to determine whether a sex offender is at risk of reoffending comes under fire from victims’ advocates. (The Sun)

A 52-year-old nanny is facing a child endangerment charge for getting so drunk while watching a baby in Salem that she couldn’t open the dead-bolted front door. Firefighters had to break down the door. (Salem News)

MEDIA 

The Atlantic is launching a new politics section. (Politico)

ProPublica launches the “dark web’s” first major news site. (Wired)