Not to be confused with WTBS-LD, WTBS-TV, or WSBT-TV.
Boston, Massachusetts
United States
  • .1: Countdown NBC Boston (11/10 - 12/31/2016)
  • NBC Boston (On January 1st, 2017)
  • .2: Telemundo Boston
Channels Digital: 46 (UHF)
Virtual: 8 (PSIP)
Subchannels (see article)
Translators WNEU 60.2 (Merrimack, New Hampshire)
Owner NBCUniversal
(Station Venture Operations, LP)
First air date April 1995 (1995-04)
Call letters' meaning Boston
Sister station(s) WNEU, NECN, Comcast SportsNet New England
Former callsigns W32AY (1995–2002)
WTMU-LP (2002–2016)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
32 (UHF, 1995–2004)
67 (UHF, 2004–2010)
46 (UHF, 2010–2016)
Former affiliations Primary/DT1:
Telemundo (via WNEU, 1995-2016)
Transmitter power 11.2 kW
Facility ID 64996
Transmitter coordinates 42°18′37.0″N 71°14′14.0″W / 42.310278°N 71.237222°W / 42.310278; -71.237222 (WBTS-LD)Coordinates: 42°18′37.0″N 71°14′14.0″W / 42.310278°N 71.237222°W / 42.310278; -71.237222 (WBTS-LD)
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
Website www.nbcboston.com

WBTS-LD, UHF digital channel 46 (virtual PSIP channel 8), is a television station located in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. The station is owned and operated by the NBC Owned Television Stations subsidiary of NBCUniversal. WBTS shares studio facilities with sister regional cable news channel New England Cable News on Wells Avenue in Newton, and its transmitter is located in Needham.

Although it is operated as a separate station in its own right, WBTS-LD is listed in FCC records as a full-time low-power digital translator of Telemundo owned-and-operated station WNEU (Merrimack, New Hampshire; also owned by NBCUniversal), which airs WBTS' programming on its DT2 subchannel.[1] WBTS provides reception of WNEU within the city of Boston, as WNEU is located northwest of the city. WBTS airs WNEU's main programming on its DT2 subchannel.

On January 1, 2017, WBTS-LD will become an owned-and-operated NBC station, replacing long-time affiliate WHDH, making it the first English low-powered station to be a primary O&O in a major market in US TV history. As with Telemundo, NBC will also be simulcast via WNEU, although WBTS-LD is being promoted as the primary signal.[2][3][4] As of November 10, 2016, the station broadcasts a transitional service known as "Countdown NBC Boston", which features syndicated and Cozi TV programming, along with news programming from NECN (which will serve as the backbone for its upcoming news operation) as a lead-up to the official launch.


Early years

The station first signed on the air in April 1995 as W32AY, operating on UHF channel 32[5] from the Prudential Tower in Boston as a Telemundo owned-and-operated station.[6] In September 2000, the station began to simulcast its programming on WWDP (channel 46), giving it a chance to better compete with Univision affiliate WUNI (channel 27), the established Spanish-language station in the area.[7][8] Telemundo sold W32AY to ZGS Communications in 2001.[9] In February 2002, W32AY changed its call letters to WTMU-LP, and on July 1, WWDP discontinued its relay of the station's programming.[7][8]

Logo used by WBTS-LD's main signal from 2012 until 2016

In December 2002, NBC (who acquired Telemundo several months earlier) purchased WPXB (channel 60, now WNEU);[10] WNEU began to carry Telemundo programming as a satellite of WTMU in April 2003.[11] Today, WBTS-LD operates as a translator of WNEU.[1]

WTMU went off-the-air in 2004, as the channel 32 allocation had been assigned to WBPX for its digital signal,[12] and the station's attempt to move to channel 67 was hindered by interference from WBPX's analog signal on channel 68.[13] WTMU resumed broadcasting operations in December 2006; it reduced its effective radiated power and relocated its transmitter to a tower in Medford to alleviate the interference.[13]

Although low-power stations were exempt from the 2009 analog shutdown that full-service stations were subject to, WTMU initiated plans for a digital signal on October 27, 2006 by applying for a construction permit for a digital companion channel on VHF channel 3.[14] On August 28, 2008, WTMU changed its plans and applied to flash-cut to channel 42, which was to have become available after WHDH moved its digital signal to VHF channel 7;[15] the original application was dismissed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on March 27, 2009,[16] but a new application was filed on May 21.[17] A move was necessary, as the spectrum that channel 67 is located within had been auctioned off and was being removed from the television bandplan as a result of the transition.[17]

Before WTMU's application could be approved, WHDH requested to return its digital signal to channel 42, leading WTMU to withdraw its application for the channel on August 24 and filing instead to move to channel 46;[18] the FCC dismissed the channel 42 application on August 26, 2009,[19] at the same time also canceling the construction permit for the previously-proposed digital companion channel.[14] In the meantime, WTMU was unable to get a digital signal on the air before being forced to terminate the analog signal on April 9, 2010, resulting in the station suspending operations.[20] To avoid losing its license due to not broadcasting for a year, WTMU resumed broadcasting on April 4, 2011, using its existing analog facilities but operating on channel 46 under special temporary authority.[21][22] It again suspended operations on April 9, but returned to the air on March 14, 2012.[23]

Pending switch to NBC

Future logo for WBTS-LD as a NBC O&O station

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.[24] 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.[25] 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 WTMU-LP's parent station, WNEU, to become an NBC O&O by hiring staff for an English-language news operation, including former WHDH meteorologist Pete Bouchard.[26][27] 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.[26]

Sunbeam argued that WNEU's signal served 4 million fewer viewers than WHDH because it is located in Merrimack, New Hampshire, which is northwest of Boston, rather than in Boston proper. WNEU's signal only has overlap with the northwest portion of WHDH's signal.[28][29] 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.[30]

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".[31][32][33]

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.[29][34][35] 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."[36]

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.[37] 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.[38]

On August 31, 2016, ZGS Communications agreed to sell WTMU-LP to NBCUniversal's Station Venture Operations subsidiary for $100,000. Concurrently, ZGS entered into a local programming and marketing agreement with another NBCUniversal subsidiary, WBTS Television, LLC, to operate WTMU-LP.[39] Sale was approved by the FCC on October 28[40] and completed on November 4.[41] On September 14, 2016, ZGS filed for a license to cover WTMU's digital construction permit;[42] the license was granted on September 21, 2016.[43] On September 19, 2016 (four days after the sale of WTMU was filed with the FCC), NBCUniversal announced that it was in the process of acquiring a Boston station to supplement WNEU's coverage, which it said would "factor into our plan" to create the NBC owned-and-operated station that will replace WHDH;[44][45] the company did not confirm that the station was WTMU.[45] The station's call letters were changed to WBTS-LD on October 6, 2016, and it received FCC approval to switch its PSIP virtual channel number from 46 to channel 8, allowing it over-the-air parity within Boston proper with other low-numbered stations.[46]

On November 1, 2016, NBCUniversal officially announced that it would broadcast its new NBC Boston service across WBTS-LD and WNEU-DT2, making it the third station in Boston to carry NBC after WBZ-TV and WHDH. Mike St. Peter pointed out that although it will not have the same over-the-air coverage as WHDH, 97% of viewers in the Boston market were pay television subscribers, and NBC would "continue to look for how we can improve over-the-air service". NBC Boston soft-launched over-the-air on November 10, 2016 with a service branded as "Countdown NBC Boston", which is intended to promote the new station and assist viewers in locating it over-the-air. The service features NBC Boston's future syndicated programming, programs from Cozi TV, and newscasts simulcast from NECN. The NBC Boston website and social media outlets were also launched at this time.[47] The station will officially launch on December 31, 2016, with coverage of Boston's First Night New Year's Eve festivities.[2][3][4]


Upon the launch of NBC Boston, WBTS-LD will carry local newscasts (NBC Boston Today, NBC Boston Now and NBC Boston Tonight) as well as weekend morning and evening newscasts.[3] A lifestyle program, The Hub Today, will air following the weekday noon newscasts, along with the Sunday morning public affairs program This is New England. The station's initial slate of syndicated programming will include Access Hollywood and its daytime counterpart Access Hollywood Live, Harry, and Rachael Ray. The first three are distributed by corporate sister NBCUniversal Television Distribution, while the latter is distributed by CBS Television Distribution, making it the only NBC O&O to carry Rachael Ray. .[3]

Currently, the station airs simulcasts of its sister cable network NECN, Cozi TV programming, NBC Boston's syndicated programming and encores of Dateline.[48][49]

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP short name Programming[50][51]
8.1, 60.2 1080i 16:9 WBTS-LD Countdown NBC Boston / NECN and Independent and Cozi TV (to become NBC on January 1, 2017) / Simulcast on WNEU-DT2
8.2, 60.1 WNEU-HD Simulcast of WNEU / Telemundo
8.3, 60.4 480i Cozi Cozi TV / Simulcast on WNEU-DT4
8.4, 60.3 TeleXo Simulcast of WNEU-DT3 / TeleXitos

Out-of-market coverage

On November 11, 2016, Canadian telecommunications company Bell Canada, which distributes Boston's broadcast network affiliates on its satellite, IPTV, and cable TV services in much of eastern Canada, filed a request with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to add WBTS's main feed to the CRTC's list of foreign television channels authorized for distribution in Canada. If the request is approved, Bell intends to replace WHDH with WBTS on the applicable services effective January 1, 2017.[52] The request is supported by Rogers Cable, which distributes WHDH on its systems in Atlantic Canada, suggesting it intends to follow Bell's lead in replacing that station with WBTS.[53]

See also


  1. 1 2 Current FCC status for WBTS-LD
  2. 1 2 "NBC Boston Launches Jan. 1 on Channel 10 on Most Providers". NECN. NBCUniversal Media LLC. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "NBC's New Boston O&O, WBTS, Sets Lineup". TVNewsCheck. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  4. 1 2 "Where you can find the new NBC Boston on your remote". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  5. "The Boston Radio Timeline". The Archives @ BostonRadio.org. Retrieved March 27, 2010.
  6. Fybush, Scott D (April 10, 1995). "New England Radio Watcher: Long Time, No Post". rec.radio.broadcasting. Google Groups. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  7. 1 2 George, Peter Q. (December 13, 2008). "WHRC-TV, Channel 46 (Ind.)". UHF Morgue. RadioDXer.com. Retrieved March 27, 2010. On September 18, 2000, WWDP began broadcasting the Spanish network Telemundo during most of their broadcast day. On July 1, 2002, the Telemundo affiliation came to an end and moved on to ZGS Broadcasting's WTMU-LP, Channel 32 in Boston…
  8. 1 2 Fybush, Scott (July 8, 2002). "WMTW Clears Out". North East RadioWatch. Retrieved March 27, 2010.
  10. Fybush, Scott (September 10, 2002). "North East RadioWatch". Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  11. "ValueVision to acquire Boston's WWDP television station". Boston Business Journal. January 16, 2003. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  12. "Engineering STA". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. May 8, 2008. Retrieved May 17, 2008.
  13. 1 2 "Engineering STA". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. November 17, 2006. Retrieved May 17, 2008.
  14. 1 2 "Application Search Details (1)". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved September 19, 2009.
  15. "APPLICATION FOR AUTHORITY TO CONSTRUCT OR MAKE CHANGES IN A LOW POWER TV, TV TRANSLATOR OR TV BOOSTER STATION (1)". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. August 28, 2008. Retrieved October 19, 2008.
  16. "Application Search Details (2)". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved June 16, 2010.
  17. 1 2 "APPLICATION FOR AUTHORITY TO CONSTRUCT OR MAKE CHANGES IN A LOW POWER TV, TV TRANSLATOR OR TV BOOSTER STATION (2)". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. May 21, 2009. Retrieved June 16, 2010.
  18. "APPLICATION FOR AUTHORITY TO CONSTRUCT OR MAKE CHANGES IN A LOW POWER TV, TV TRANSLATOR OR TV BOOSTER STATION". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. August 24, 2009. Retrieved September 19, 2009.
  19. "Application Search Details (3)". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved September 19, 2009.
  20. "Notification of Suspension of Operations / Request for Silent STA". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communincations Commission. April 12, 2010. Retrieved June 16, 2010.
  21. "Engineering STA". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. March 29, 2011. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  22. "Resumption of Operations". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. April 5, 2011. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  23. "Resumption of Operations". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. March 16, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  24. "Everyone's Hungry For Boston Market". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  25. "NBC talks with Ch. 7 could bring shake-up to Boston TV". Boston Globe. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  26. 1 2 Fee, Gayle; Heslam, Jessica (December 17, 2015). "NBC dials up heat: Ch. 7 set to lose network affiliation". Boston Herald. Retrieved December 17, 2015.
  27. "Beantown Breakup - NBC Actually Leaving WHDH?". New England One. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  28. "TV affiliate talks still up in the airwaves". Boston Globe. December 18, 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  29. 1 2 "Here's an Update on NBC Boston". TVSpy. Adweek. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  30. Leung, Shirley (December 23, 2015). "To Channel 7 owner, NBC's offer is $300 million too little". The Boston Globe. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  31. "NBCU Launching NBC O&O in Boston Next Year". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  32. "NBC to Launch NBC Boston Next Year". TVSpy. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  33. Rooney, Emily. "NBC Moves To Cut Ties With WHDH". wgbhnews.org. WGBH Educational Foundation. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  34. "WHDH Suing Comcast Over Loss Of Affiliation". TVNewsCheck. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  35. "Channel 7 owner sues Comcast in NBC fight". Boston Globe. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  36. McGovern, Bob (May 16, 2016). "Judge tosses suit by WHDH over network dispute". Boston Herald. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  37. "WHDH, NBC scramble in wake of ugly split". Boston Herald. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  38. "Is Fox the fix for local TV turmoil?". Boston Herald. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  39. "Application For Transfer Of Control Of A Corporate Licensee Or Permittee, Or For Assignment Of License Or Permit Of TV Or FM Translator Station Or Low Power Television Station". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. September 15, 2016. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  40. "Application Search Details". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved November 1, 2016.
  41. "Consummation Notice". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved November 8, 2016.
  42. "License To Cover for LPTV Station Operation" (PDF). CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. September 14, 2016. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  43. "LOW POWER TELEVISION BROADCAST STATION LICENSE" (PDF). CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. September 21, 2016. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  44. Leung, Shirley (September 20, 2016). "NBCUniversal buys local station that could play role in NBC Boston". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  45. 1 2 Eck, Kevin (September 19, 2016). "NBC Gives Partial Look at How it Will Broadcast to Boston". TVSpy. Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  46. "Call Sign History (WBTS-LD)". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  47. "NBC Boston Gets Soft Launch in Market". TVSpy. Adweek. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  48. "NBC Boston Launches Countdown Channel, New Website". New England One. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  49. Comparison between schedules at http://www.nbcboston.com/news/local/Countdown-NBC-Boston-Programming-Schedule-400001351.html and Cozi TV website, http://media.cozitv.com/documents/cozi_schedule.pdf
  50. "Digital TV Market Listing for WBTS-LD". RabbitEars.Info. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  51. "Boston Channel Finder". NBC Boston. NBCUniversal Media, LLC. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  52. Bell Canada (2016-11-11). "CRTC Application 2016-1170-8" (ZIP). Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  53. "Interventions to CRTC Application 2016-1170-8". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. 2016-12-02. Retrieved 2016-12-03.

External links

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