WNEU, virtual channel 60 (UHF digital channel 34), is the Telemundo owned-and-operated television station serving Boston, Massachusetts, United States that is licensed to Merrimack, New Hampshire. The station is owned and operated by the NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations subsidiary of NBCUniversal. WNEU's executive offices are on Sundial Avenue in Manchester, NH, their transmitter is located in Goffstown, New Hampshire and studio facilities on Wells Avenue in Newton, MA along with sister channel New England Cable News.

History

The station first signed on the air August 14, 1987 as WGOT, an independent station owned by Golden Triangle TV 60 Corporation.[2] The call sign was derived from the so-called "Golden Triangle" region that encompasses Manchester, Nashua and Salem, New Hampshire. Neal Cortell, who owned 50 percent of WGOT,[2] had earlier owned a stake in WXPO-TV (channel 50, now occupied by WBIN-TV).[3]

Paugus Television bought WGOT for $1.35 million on January 13, 1989.[4][5] In the early 1990s, WGOT unsuccessfully attempted to become New Hampshire's Fox affiliate; in 1991, Paugus filed an antitrust lawsuit against Fox, its Boston affiliate WFXT (channel 25), and the Boston Celtics (who owned WFXT at the time) for conspiring to block WGOT from joining the network, as well as using Fox programming and WFXT's Celtics broadcasts to place channel 60 at a disadvantage in obtaining cable carriage.[6] Another attempt at obtaining a Fox affiliation for the station ended in November 1994, after Fox attempted to instead lure ABC affiliate WMUR-TV (channel 9).[7]

Paxson Communications purchased WGOT from Paugus for $3.05 million on May 17, 1995,[8][9] and switched the station to a mix of infomercials and religious programming, as an affiliate of the Infomall TV Network (or inTV). Paxson referred to WGOT as inTV's Boston affiliate; however, the channel 60 signal did not reach the city.[11] To solve this, Paxson bought WRAP-LP (channel 33) in Gloucester from Electron Communications on October 31, 1996,[12] moved the station to channel 54 in Boston under the call letters W54CN,[13] and brought it to the air that November as a translator of WGOT.[11] In December 2000, W54CN moved to channel 40[14][15] as W40BO.[13]

WGOT changed its call sign to WPXB on January 20, 1998,[16] and subsequently became a charter owned-and-operated station of Pax TV (now Ion Television) when it launched on August 31, 1998; WPXB split the Boston affiliation for the network with WBPX (channel 46, now WWDP) in Norwell.[17] However, the station dropped Pax programming in June 1999 after DP Media (whose owner, Devon Paxson, was the son of Paxson Communications founder Bud Paxson) took over WABU (channel 68, now WBPX-TV) and made it Boston's new Pax station; WABU operated a satellite in New Hampshire, WNBU (channel 21, now WPXG-TV) in Concord.[18] WPXB then returned to an infomercial format;[18] on November 1, 2000, the station switched to ValueVision, which later became ShopNBC.[19][20]

In September 2002, NBC agreed to acquire WPXB from Paxson for $26 million, with the intention of making channel 60 an owned-and-operated station of its Telemundo network.[21][22] Paxson, which was in the process of selling some of its stations in order to raise $100 million, had originally planned to sell WPXB to another company, but NBC had a right of first refusal on Paxson's stations in the fifty largest markets,[23] which it had obtained when it acquired a 32 percent stake in Paxson in 1999.[24] NBC completed its purchase of WPXB on October 29, 2002;[25] two days later, the call letters were changed to WNEU.[16] Translator station W40BO was not included in the sale; Paxson eventually made channel 40 a translator of WBPX. Channel 60 continued to air ShopNBC programming until April 2003, while ValueVision Media (ShopNBC's parent company) was in the process of acquiring WWDP to move ShopNBC there; WNEU switched to Telemundo that month.[26]

Concurrently with the station joining Telemundo, WNEU entered into a joint sales and time brokerage agreement with ZGS Communications, owner of existing Telemundo affiliate WTMU-LP (then on channel 32; now on channel 46).[27] During this time, WNEU effectively served as a full-power satellite of WTMU-LP,[28] even though channel 60 was promoted as the main station. The local marketing agreement with ZGS expired in April 2014; at that time, NBCUniversal retook full control of WNEU and placed the station in its Telemundo Station Group.[29][30]

Possible switch to NBC

It was reported in August 2015 that NBCUniversal was considering the possibility of purchasing current NBC affiliate WHDH (channel 7), whose affiliation will expire at the end of 2016. NBCUniversal and WHDH owner Sunbeam Television have denied these rumors. Sunbeam's Executive Vice President and former WHDH general manager Chris Wayland, stated that the company "fully [expects]" that it would renew WHDH's affiliation.[31]

In October 2015, the Boston Globe reported that NBC had considered moving the affiliation to its cable channel NECN rather than to an over-the-air channel, although the company declined to comment.[32] On December 15, 2015, New England One reported, citing internal sources, that NBCUniversal had declined to renew its affiliation with WHDH, and was in the process of preparing WNEU to become an NBC O&O by hiring staff for an English-language news operation, including former WHDH meteorologist Pete Bouchard.[33][34] The Boston Herald reported two days later that the station would prospectively be known as "NBC Boston", and that WNEU's existing Telemundo programming could be moved to a different subchannel. Following the reports, Paul Magnes, WHDH's vice president and general manager, told the Herald that the station still expected its NBC affiliation to be renewed, while NBCUniversal again declined to comment.[33]

Moving NBC to WNEU would affect the over-the-air availability of the network; WNEU's transmitter is located in Merrimack, New Hampshire, which is norhwest of WHDH's transmitter location of Boston. Sunbeam estimated that WNEU served 4 million fewer residents than WHDH's signal, which covers a radius directly around Boston. WNEU's signal only has overlap with the nortwest portion of WHDH's signal.[35][36] Sunbeam's owner, Ed Ansin, told the Globe that "No network has elected to give up such a strong station and go to a startup station," after having disclosed that he had rejected a $200 million offer to sell WHDH to NBC in September 2015, leading the network to threaten to shift its programming to WNEU; however, he still predicted that NBC would remain on channel 7.[37]

On January 7, 2016, Valari Staab, president of NBC Owned Television Stations, confirmed that NBC had declined to renew its affiliation with WHDH beyond the end of 2016, and would launch NBC Boston on January 1, 2017; Staab explained that with NBC's recent investments into the studio facilities of NECN and WNEU, "we have built a very strong news organization in the Boston market—both from a personnel and facilities perspective—which puts us in a great position to launch an NBC-owned station locally." The station will be led by NECN and Telemundo Boston's general manager Mike St. Peter. Staab did not outright confirm whether WNEU will carry NBC programming, but iterated that the network will remain available over-the-air following the transition, and that NBCUniversal was "committed to expanding our over-the-air coverage of the market and are currently looking at a variety of options to accomplish that".[38][39][40]

On March 10, 2016, Sunbeam Television sued Comcast in the District Court for the District of Massachusetts, arguing that moving NBC to WNEU would violate antitrust law by strengthening its near-monopoly position in the market, and FCC conditions on Comcast's acquisition of NBC, as the company had agreed not to reduce over-the-air coverage of NBC, nor use its cable holdings to influence affiliation negotiations.[36][41][42] On May 16, 2016, the lawsuit was thrown out, with the judge arguing that the possible loss of OTA coverage was "not a concern that WHDH has standing to redress", and that "absent any actionable harm attributable to Comcast, it is simply an indurate consequence of doing business in an competitive and unsentimental marketplace."[43]

On May 18, 2016, the Boston Herald reported that NBCUniversal was considering acquiring Ion Television station WBPX-TV. The Ion Media Networks-owned station covers a similar coverage area to WHDH, lessening the impact of a potential switch.[44] On June 13, 2016, the Herald also suggested that NBC could purchase or trade for Fox station WFXT-TV to use as its O&O instead (which would cause WHDH to theoretically switch from NBC to Fox, the same affiliation as its Miami sister station), believing that Cox Media Group (which had received the station in a trade with Fox Television Stations for its San Francisco station KTVU) would be interested in divesting the station due to its declining viewership. WFXT's general manager, WHDH's general manager, and NBC denied that any of these ideas were being considered.[45]

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[46]
60.11080i16:9WNEU-HDMain WNEU programming / Telemundo
60.2480i4:3EXITOSTeleXitos
60.316:9Cozi TVCozi TV

Analog-to-digital conversion

WNEU shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 60, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 34.[47] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 60, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition.

Newscasts

In the early 1990s, WGOT aired a New Hampshire-oriented primetime newscast at 10:00 p.m. that was anchored by current NHDOT spokesperson Bill Boynton. The newscast, which started in August 1991,[48] was discontinued in June 1994; the cancellation was due to insufficient profits, as well as limited interest in a New Hampshire newscast from northern Massachusetts viewers that received the station on cable.[49] WGOT would continue to air news briefs and news specials until the sale to Paxson Communications.

On June 11, 2015, NBCUniversal announced that it would launch early evening and late newscasts for WNEU. The news operation shares resources with sister channel New England Cable News and operates out of NECN's studios in Newton, Massachusetts. WNEU's newscasts include a live 11 p.m. newscast; competitor WUNI (channel 27) also airs a newscast at that time, but it is a rebroadcast of that station's 6 p.m. newscast.[50][51] The newscasts launched on August 17, 2015.[52]