When NBC announced their plans to hobble The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien with heaping helpings of Stab An Hour In The Throat With Jay Leno And The Judge Ito Dancers every night at 10pm, America exhaled a collective, "Really?" Before turning their stereo speakers towards the streets and blasting Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out For A Hero" at full volume. (That's the contemporary version of the Bat Signal when it comes to network programming grievances.) For many months it seemed as if our call would never be answered, and Zombie Jay Leno would go unchallenged, chewing through hours and hours of primetime programming at will. But today, just as we heard the lyrics, "Where's the street-wise Hercules/To fight the rising odds?" for the millionth time, a hero did emerge: NBC's Boston affiliate WHDH, a brave local network that has refused (for the time-being at least) to air Jay Leno's daily 10pm misery parade when it launches in September.
From The Boston Globe:
WHDH-TV Channel 7, Boston's NBC affiliate, is refusing to air Jay Leno's new talk show in the lucrative 10 p.m. hour in favor of its own hourlong local news show, and NBC doesn't like it one bit.
"WHDH's move is a flagrant violation of the terms of their contract with NBC," said John Eck, president of NBC Television Network. "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."
Ed Ansin, owner of WHDH and WLVI, believes a local newscast at 10 p.m., which he plans to simulcast on both stations, will draw better ratings than Leno.
"We feel we have a real opportunity with running the news at 10 p.m. We don't think the Leno show is going to be effective in prime time," Ansin said yesterday. "It will be detrimental to our 11 o'clock [newscast]. It will be very adverse to our finances."
So why is NBC so determined to make an example of their rogue Boston affiliate? According to Variety, many other NBC affiliates are nervous about NBC's brilliant plan for four hours (Leno's Prime-Time Ambien Hour, Conan, Fallon, and the Watch Carson Daly Rotate Slowly On This Spit Hour) of variety/late-night programming each night. Also, if NBC loses Boston, the 7th largest ratings market in the country, they'll sink even further in the ratings. (It's possible!)
In the end, our hero WHDH will probably surrender their airwaves to Zombie Jay Leno rather than lose their affiliate status, but before they do, they should consider another strategy: Just say that Jay Leno in primetime is offensive and goes against the community standards in Boston. It's somewhat true (he offends anyone with a sense of humor), and it worked for Panama City, Florida!