WWLP has not been on Charter's channel lineup in the Berkshires since April 2017; Senator Markey has been working to bring back in-state programming to Berkshire viewers for nearly three years
Washington (February 28, 2020) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) announced today that he has helped successfully broker a deal between the cable provider Charter Communications and Nexstar Media Group, owner of WWLP, the Springfield Massachusetts NBC station. The deal will restore Berkshire County viewers’ access to in-state, local news programming. Under the terms of this agreement, WWLP will be restored to the Charter channel lineup and subscribers will either see live WWLP news programming as it airs, and when the news is not be aired live, the station will loop previous news broadcasts. In effect, the station will serve as a 24-hour WWLP news station covering Massachusetts. Charter subscribers in the Berkshires will also continue to have access to broadcast stations based in Albany, New York. Charter subscribers should expect the WWLP programming to come on the air in the next 60 days. Senator Markey has worked with Senator Elizabeth Warren and Chairman Richard Neal for three years to bring the station back on the air in the region.
“The people of Massachusetts rely on local broadcast television every day. It’s how we get the news that matters to us. It’s how we stay up to date on the information that affects our lives,” said Senator Markey. “That’s why I have been working for nearly three years to bring WWLP back to the Berkshires, and I am proud to announce that we have reached a solution that will give Berkshire County residents what they want: access to Massachusetts news. I thank Nexstar, WWLP’s owner, and Charter for reaching this deal, and I thank Senator Warren and Congressman Neal for working with me to make this agreement a reality.”
“For nearly three years, I have worked closely with Senator Markey and Senator Warren to bring Massachusetts based television programming back to the Berkshires and today we have achieved that goal,” said Congressman Neal. “We all strongly believed that Massachusetts residents should be able to view Massachusetts news, weather, emergency alerts and other important programing. With today’s announcement, the people of the Berkshires will once again be able to watch the local NBC affiliate WWLP TV-22 rather than Albany news. This is terrific news for Berkshire County.”
“Allowing Western Massachusetts residents to stay informed was at the heart of our three-year effort to bring local programming back to Charter subscribers in the Berkshires. I am proud to join Senator Markey and Congressman Neal to announce that this agreement will, above all, bring back in-state broadcasting to the community,” Senator Warren said.“Residents deserve to be informed about local news, root for their favorite sports teams, and receive alerts about weather and emergencies happening in Western Massachusetts and across the Commonwealth.”
Because the Berkshires are technically part of the Albany, New York “Designated Market Area,” Western Massachusetts viewers have only had access broadcast stations that focus on New York. Berkshire County is, therefore, known as an “orphan county,” like other counties in Wisconsin, Colorado, and Nebraska.
Senator Markey previously introduced legislation with Senator Warren and Rep. Neal that would force the cable company Charter to engage in good faith negotiations with WWLP and WCVB to bring those stations back on the air in Berkshire County. Specifically, the bill authorizes a cable operator (Charter) to transmit any station that was retransmitted to viewers on December 1, 2016, including WWLP and WCVB, to subscribers in the Albany Designated Market Area, which includes Berkshire County, and forces Charter and the stations to negotiate carriage. The bill also preserves Berkshire County residents’ access to Albany, New York stations that provide relevant weather updates and important emergency information. Senator Markey pushed for a version of this bill as an amendment to the 2019 satellite reauthorization bill in the Senate Commerce Committee.
Senator Markey has personally met with the CEOs of Charter and Nexstar, WWLP’s owner, and encouraged the two parties to resolve their dispute and meet Berkshire residents’ demand for Massachusetts television programming. Over the past three years, Senator Markey’s staff has been in regular contact with both companies and has worked to return carriage of Massachusetts programming to the Berkshires.
Additional steps the lawmakers have taken to bring Massachusetts television programming to Berkshire County include: