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Ed Ansin changes the channel, but still has the signal

When NBC didn’t renew its deal with Channel 7, Ansin decided to start an independent station.

BOSTON, MA - 12/15/2016: New WHDH Ch. 7 studio with Ed Ansin, owner, (David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo) SECTION: BUSINESS TOPIC 16leung

David L. Ryan/Globe staff/File

Ed Ansin ownsWHDH-TV (Channel 7).

Is there such a thing as too much local TV news? Bostonians are finding out this year after the very public divorce between WHDH-TV (Channel 7) owner Ed Ansin and NBC, which may have left viewers with more local news — 11.5 hours more each weekday — than anyone could possibly watch.

Ansin’s refusal to leave the broadcasting business, combined with the network’s launch of its own local station, NBC Boston, crammed a sixth local news outlet into the Boston TV market and spurred a massive poaching of on-air talent. Pop quiz: Where did longtime WFXT (Fox 25) anchor Maria Stephanos and Channel 7 meteorologist Pete Bouchard land? Answer: Stephanos went to WCVB (Channel 5) and Bouchard to the new NBC Boston.

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It all started when NBC, owned by cable giant Comcast Corp., decided not to renew its affiliation with Channel 7 after 22 years. Instead, the network launched its own station, complete with anchors and reporters, satellite trucks, and a helicopter.

Most people would have seen this as a sign to get out of the TV business. Not Ansin. At 81, he is defending his turf and set up Channel 7 as an independent station focused on local news. Only time will tell how wedded Bostonians are to Channel 7 or, for that matter, TV personalities in general. But don’t feel too bad for Ansin. He may have lost his network affiliation, but he reaped a cool $162 million recently in a Federal Communications Commission auction for the signal of his other local station, WLVI.

Shirley Leung is a Globe columnist. Send comments to magazine@globe.com. Follow us on Twitter @BostonGlobeMag.
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