NBC is taking a huge gamble with Jay Leno's new 10 pm talk show, but not everyone wants to bet: Boston's NBC affiliate, WHDH-TV, is opting to air a newscast instead of the outgoing Tonight Show host's new show.
"We feel we have a real opportunity with running the news at 10 pm. We don't think the Leno show is going to be effective in primetime," WHDH-TV owner, Ed Ansin, told The Boston Globe. "It will be detrimental to our 11 o'clock. It will be very adverse to our finances."
NBC is threatening to strip the station of its affiliation.
"WHDH's move is a flagrant violation of the terms of their contract with NBC," said John Eck, NBC TV Network president. "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." The network could turn its Telemundo station into an NBC affiliate, Variety reported.
Ansin said WHDH is permitted to drop Leno's show due a clause in the station's contract, which NBC said is "absolutely wrong." "It is clear that WHDH is contractually required to air NBC programming as scheduled by the network," said NBC general counsel Rick Cotton.
Scheduled to premiere in September, the tentatively titled Jay Leno Show would occupy a time slot that until now was filled by scripted dramas.
Leno will bow out as Tonight Show host on May 29 to make way for Conan O'Brien on June 1.