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 NBC Owned Television Stations subsidiary of NBCUniversal (itself a division of Comcast). WNEU's transmitter is located in Goffstown, New Hampshire; the station maintains executive/FCC public file examination offices on Sundial Avenue in Manchester, New Hampshire, and its studio facilities are on Wells Avenue in Newton, Massachusetts along with NBC affiliate WBTS-LD and cable news channel NECN.

WNEU's Telemundo programming was formerly simulcast by the low-power WBTS-LD (formerly WTMU-LP) as a translator. On January 1, 2017, WBTS became an owned-and-operated NBC station known as NBC Boston, replacing previous affiliate WHDH. WBTS's NBC programming is simulcast on WNEU's second digital subchannel to provide full-market coverage for the northern portion of the Boston market.

History

Early Years

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]

From WGOT to WPXB

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).[7] 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]

From WPXB to WNEU

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 WBTS-LD 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]

NBC affiliation on DT2

On January 7, 2016, Valari Staab, president of NBC Owned Television Stations, announced that NBC had declined to renew its affiliation with current affiliate WHDH beyond the end of 2016, and would launch a new NBC owned-and-operated station on January 1, 2017, known as "NBC Boston" and led by NECN and Telemundo Boston's general manager Mike St. Peter. It was rumored that NBC would be moved to WNEU, however Staab did not outright confirm whether WNEU will carry NBC programming, but iterated that the network would 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".[14][15][40]

Unlike WHDH, whose signal radius is located directly over Boston, WNEU's signal only overlaps with the northwest portion of WHDH's signal. This prompted complaints by WHDH's owner, Sunbeam Television,[35][19] which later sued Comcast under allegations that the affiliate switch violated FCC conditions on Comcast's acquisition of NBC, by reducing over-the-air coverage of the network and using its cable holdings to influence affiliation negotiations.[19][17][18] The lawsuit was thrown out in May 2016.[20]

In September 2016, NBCUniversal agreed to acquire WTMU-LP (now WBTS-LD)—WNEU's low-power translator in Needham, Massachusetts, which the company said would factor into its plan to broadcast the new service over-the-air into Boston.[60][61] On November 1, 2016, NBCUniversal officially announced that NBC Boston would be simulcast on WBTS-LD and WNEU-DT2 after it launches on January 1, 2017.[62][63][64]

On New Year's Day 2017, NBC Boston was added to Time Warner Cable systems (via the WNEU-DT2 Channel 60.2 feed), to channel 23 in Athol/Orange, Massachusetts, channel 3 in Keene, New Hampshire, and channel 22 in Middleton, New Hampshire and in high definition on digital channel 1205 in Athol/Orange, Massachusetts, as well as both Keene and Middleton, New Hampshire.[65]

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[46][66]
60.11080i16:9WNEU-HDTelemundo
60.2WBTS-LDSimulcast of WBTS-LD
60.3480iTeleXitosTeleXitos
60.4CoziSimulcast of WBTS-LD3

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 continued to broadcasts on its pre-transition UHF channel 34.[34] 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;[48] 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.[48]

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]

See also