Business & Tech

What you need to know about NBC’s channel flip in Boston

NBC Boston debuts Sunday.

Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

NBC Boston debuts Sunday.

As of Jan. 1, NBC has moved its programming to a new station in the Greater Boston market. It’s the first big change in major network affiliates here in two decades, requiring many people to adjust viewing habits. Here are answers to some questions you might have.

What exactly is happening?

The NBC network has parted ways with WHDH-TV (Channel 7), its affiliate in Boston since 1995. NBC’s programs -- everything from “Sunday Night Football” to “The Today Show” -- will move to NBC Boston, a new station owned and operated by the network.

So where can I now find my favorite NBC shows?

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That depends. NBC Boston has a complete guide at www.nbcboston.com. Here is a partial list:

 Charter Spectrum: tentatively 10, 17, or 23;

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 Comcast: 10/high definition 710, 810;

DirecTV: 10;

Dish: 10;

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RCN: 10/ HD: 603;

Verizon: 16/HD 516.

Wait, why are Charter Spectrum’s channels tentative?

Charter and NBC parent NBCUniversal said Friday that they have yet to reach a new national agreement to carry more than a dozen of the media giant’s channels. Unless a deal is signed, Charter customers won’t see NBC Boston and related networks such as MSNBC, New England Cable News, and Bravo.

What if I don’t have cable or satellite?

If you rely on an antenna for an over-the-air signal, viewers in Greater Boston should look for NBC on channels 8.1 or 60.5. Those in southern New Hampshire and northeastern Massachusetts should tune into channel 60.2. NBC recommends trying all three channels to see which offers the best reception.

Why would NBC do this to viewers?

Networks can make more money if they own and operate their own local affiliates. NBC, a unit of cable giant Comcast Corp., decided not to renew its affiliation with WHDH when the contract expires on Dec. 31. Instead, the peacock network is launching is own station.

But there has been a hitch: NBC Boston doesn’t have its own full-power TV signal. Normally, networks would buy another station in town and take it over. That didn’t happen this time because of the federal government’s ongoing spectrum auction, which has made it difficult for stations to entertain bids from private buyers.

So what did NBC do?

To match the reach of WHDH’s signal, NBC Boston has had to cobble together a patchwork of options. The plan involves sharing signals with three stations: New Hampshire’s WNEU, which is also owned by Comcast and broadcasts Spanish-language Telemundo; Boston station WMFP, which airs a network owned by televangelist Jimmy Swaggart; and low-power Boston station WBTS.

What shows will be on Channel 7?

Station owner Ed Ansin is doubling down on news and adding newscasts throughout the day, including a new one at 9 p.m. There won’t be any original entertainment programming, but you can load up on syndicated shows such as “Family Feud” and “Celebrity Name Game.” You can find Channel 7’s lineup on www.whdh.com.

Shirley Leung can be reached at shirley.leung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @leung.
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