Channel Surfing

It’s been a couple decades since we’ve had a major shake-up on the Boston television scene so clearly we were due for one. And it’s looking more and more likely that NBC will abandon WHDH (Channel 7) when the contract expires at the end of 2016 and move its programming to a network-owned affiliate somewhere down the dial.

“It’s a done deal,” one source told the Boston Herald, countering optimistic statements from WHDH officials about being confident it will all work out fine with Channel 7 remaining in the NBC stable.

While stories have been floating for several months about the contentious negotiations between Sunbeam, Channel 7’s owner, and the network, some very good details along with informed speculation were reported on New England One, a website dedicated to the region’s television markets.

NE1 reports NBC will pull the plug and move its programming to WNEU (Channel 60), which is owned by the Peacock Network. The website also reported that former Fox 25 news anchor Maria Stephanos will be the news team leader for the new station and speculation is running rampant that meteorologist Pete Bouchard, who resigned from Channel 7 earlier this week, will be moving to the new affiliate as well.

Apparently, there has been a rocky history between NBC and Sunbeam owner Ed Ansin, going back decades to when Ansin started in the Miami television market. It was exacerbated a couple years back when Ansin declared he would not air the prime time Jay Leno show, instead putting up a 10 o’clock newscast which he saw as a better bet. NBC threatened legal action and Ansin relented, though he was later proven right when Leno bombed in the time slot and Channel 7’s market-leading 11 o’clock news dropped from first to second in the ratings with the weak lead-in.

Some insiders speculate NBC could move its programming to NECN, which it owns, but there are too many problems for that to be a reality. First, transforming NECN into an NBC affiliate would eliminate the 24-hour news channel from being carried in other cable markets in New England because of overlap with other NBC affiliates. Also, because NECN is a cable network, it couldn’t fulfill certain broadcast responsibilities mandated by the Federal Communications Commission.

But there’s also a problem with switching to WNEU, whose broadcast tower out of Merrimack, New Hampshire, sends out a weaker signal that may be difficult to get in parts of Massachusetts. That may not be as big an issue, given that most people now have cable.

In the meantime, don’t touch that dial.




Gov. Charlie Baker says he’s a “harder sell” on a compassionate release from prison for former House speaker Sal DiMasi. (State House News) Globe columnist Adrian Walker adds his voice to those saying the ailing DiMasi should be sent home.

Sen. President Stan Rosenberg calls the level of media coverage of his personal life “offensive” and says he believes it is coming in for more scrutiny because he’s gay. (Boston Herald)


Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera is asking Kemal Bozkurt to choose between his job as acting director of the city library and his newly won seat on the Lawrence School Committee. The mayor, prodded by the Eagle-Tribune, says he will make the same demand of Gary Mannion, a former campaign aide who sits on the board overseeing the Greater Lawrence Technical School and just recently was given a firefighter’s job by Rivera.

Larry DiCara and Michael Nicholson explore the downsides of Proposition 2½ and the Community Preservation Act, which they say exacerbate inequality in Massachusetts. (CommonWealth)

Former Boston city councilor and mayoral candidate Mike Ross decries the city’s stodgy ways that are stifling the more vibrant night-life that millennials crave, making us more like Chattanooga than L.A. (Boston Globe)

Fall River won a grant from the state to purchase a 30-acre parcel from the Fall River Diocese to use as open land and recreation area. (Herald News)

Boston’s Board of Health votes to raise the legal age to buy cigarettes to 21. (WBUR)

The Globe reports that the proposed IndyCar race in Boston’s Seaport district is close to getting the green light from the various state agencies that need to sign-off on the plan.

The Boston Public Library is leasing ground floor space in at its Copley Square main branch, but not necessarily to the highest bidder, an approach that has one would-be lessee upset. (Boston Globe)

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll says she is disappointed the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee resigned en masse, but insists progress is being made on making the community bicycle friendly. (Salem News)

Gloucester wants to bring more activity to its waterfront by offering boats free parking for two hours. (Gloucester Times)


The Massachusetts Gaming Commission greenlights the scaled-back Springfield casino plan of MGM Resorts. (Associated Press) MassLive story here.

Opponents of a proposed Mashpee Wampanoag casino in Taunton say they will take the full six years allowed under federal law to challenge the decision allowing the tribe to take land into trust. (Cape Cod Times)


US Rep. Joe Kennedy III is pushing legislation to require insurance companies to report statistics on their denial of claims for treatment of substance abuse and mental illness. (Boston Globe)


Donald Trump still leads but Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Chris Christie are gaining on him in New Hampshire, according to a Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll. The survey also finds that Bernie Sanders‘s lead in the Granite State over Hillary Clinton has nearly evaporated, with the two Democrats now in a virtual dead heat.

A Bernie Sanders staffer accessed voter data belonging to Hillary Clinton on a system managed by the Democratic National Committee. (Time)

UMass Amherst police say not so fast to their parent union’s endorsement of Donald Trump. (MassLive)

Jeb! may be sucking wind in the polls, but he’s now got the endorsement of former Boston police commissioner Ed Davis. (Boston Globe)

The GOP presidential primary field breathes new life into Sarah Palin. (Christian Science Monitor.)


Gillette is suing Dollar Shave Club, the discount mail-order razor blade supplier, for patent infringement. (Boston Globe)

Cliff Rucker signs a five-year lease agreement with the DCU Center in Worcester where he hopes to bring a double-A professional hockey franchise. (Telegram & Gazette)

Keller@Large says there’s only one lesson to be learned from the failed Boston Olympic bid: It was a mistake.


Pope Francis has declared a second miracle associated with Mother Teresa, clearing the path for sainthood for the one-time Nobel Prize winner. (New York Times)


Brandeis University names Ronald Liebowitz, the former head of Middlebury College, as its new president. (WBUR)

An audit for the Boston Public Schools says there is a lot of excess capacity in the system and the potential for big savings by closing low-enrollment schools and firing some teachers. (Boston Globe)

A Virginia school district closes amid an uproar over a geography lesson that had students practice calligraphy using an Islamic statement of faith. (Time)


The California Public Employees’ Retirement System is requiring the 1.3 million people covered by its health insurance plan to pay the difference if they select a provider who charges above an average price for a procedure. (Governing)

A state-by-state report shows the country by and large is unprepared to handle a pandemic. (U.S. News & World Report)

Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins calls for expanded addiction treatment. (Boston Globe)

Clinics to treat concussions are popping up all over, but many may be hawking snake oil, reports STAT.


Jim Aloisi does a mashup of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and the MBTA.(CommonWealth)


Adam Greenberg, a youth delegate to the climate change talks in Paris, says there was praise there for Massachusetts policies. (CommonWealth) There was no one there, however, from the Baker administration, which an official from the Conservation Law Foundation describes as a disappointment. (Boston Globe)

The Standard Times explores the problems facing the Northeast in the era of climate change.


A Norfolk Superior Court judge has ruled Fontbonne Academy in Milton discriminated against a Dorchester man when officials at the Catholic school rescinded a job offer after learning he was in a same-sex marriage. (Patriot Ledger)

Suffolk DA Dan Conley is bringing on a seasoned prosecutor to his office’s “cold case” unit, which focuses on unsolved homicides. (Boston Herald)


The New York Times attaches an editor’s note to its disputed story on the San Bernardino shooters. (Washington Post)

Chris Faraone, DigBoston‘s news and features editor and co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, has a bone to pick with New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan.

The Columbia Journalism Review profiles the small investigative team that serves Gannett’s 10 newspapers in Wisconsin.