Jay Leno's prime-time show will launch nationwide this fall -- except in Boston.
The NBC affiliate in Beantown, WHDH-TV, says it won't air the show and will instead opt for a local newscast in the 10 p.m. hour. The station thinks it can get better ratings with news than with Leno's show, which will run every weeknight at 10 ET starting in the fall.
"We feel we have a real opportunity with running the news at 10 p.m.," WHDH owner Ed Ansin tells The Boston Globe. "We don't think the Leno show is going to be effective in prime time. It will be detrimental to our 11 o'clock [newscast]. It will be very adverse to our finances."
NBC, not surprisingly, isn't pleased with the station's decision, going so far as to say it could strip WHDH of its network affiliation if it refuses to air Leno's show.
"WHDH's move is a flagrant violation of the terms of their contract with NBC," John Eck, president of NBC Network, which oversees relations with affiliates, tells the paper. "If they persist, we will strip WHDH of its NBC affiliation. We have a number of other strong options in the Boston market, including using our existing broadcast license to launch an NBC-owned and operated station."
NBC announced in December that it was keeping the long-time "Tonight Show" in the fold by giving Leno a nightly prime-time show. (Conan O'Brien will become the "Tonight" host on June 1.) The network has tried to manage ratings expectations for the show, saying that while it might not be a huge hit, its low cost compared to scripted drama and the fact that it will be new episodes for most of the year will be good for the network.