In a move that could have a huge impact on the future of WHDH in Boston, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by the station against media giant Comcast.
It's a decision that will cloud the future of the station and shake up the Boston broadcast television market.
WHDH has been running NBC programming since 1995, but the peacock network, which is owned by Comcast, said earlier this year that it would end its contract with the station at the end of 2016 and launch its own new Boston TV station in 2017.
The Boston Globe writes that Ed Ansin, the 80-year-old billionaire owner of WHDH, sued Comcast in March, alleging breach of contract and antitrust violations. Comcast asked for the case to be dismissed.
Judge Richard G. Stearns, who heard arguments from both sides last week, on Monday ruled in Comcast’s favor — saying that WHDH had no legal right to demand contract renewal negotiations with NBC.
“WHDH’s loss of the NBC affiliation is no doubt a blow to the station’s profitability. But absent any actionable harm attributable to Comcast, it is simply an indurate consequence of doing business in a competitive and unsentimental market place,” Stearns wrote in his decision. “For the foregoing reasons, defendant’s motion to dismiss is allowed.”
NBC applauded the judge’s ruling.
“We’re very pleased with the court’s decision and we look forward to delivering Boston area viewers the best local news, weather and information — along with the NBC news, sports, primetime and late night programming they already know and enjoy — when NBC Boston launches on January 1, 2017,” the company said in a statement.
WHDH declined to comment, but in its 7 p.m. broadcast, the station reported that it is “reviewing its options” and has “contingency plans” to stay on the air.