WBZ-TV, virtual channel 4 (UHF digital channel 30), is a CBS-owned-and-operated television station located in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. The station is owned by the CBS Television Stations subsidiary of ViacomCBS, and is part of a duopoly with MyNetworkTV affiliate WSBK-TV (channel 38). The two stations share studios and office facilities located on Soldiers Field Road in the Allston-Brighton section of Boston; WBZ-TV's transmitter is located in Needham, Massachusetts on a tower site that was formerly owned by CBS and is now owned by American Tower Corporation (which is shared with transmitters belonging to WCVB-TV, WGBH-TV, WBTS-LD, WGBX-TV and WSBK-TV).
WBZ-TV is also one of six local Boston television stations seen in Canada by subscribers to satellite provider Bell TV, and is also seen on most cable systems in Atlantic Canada.
As an NBC affiliate (1948-1995)
As the only television station that was built from the ground up by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, WBZ-TV began operations on June 9, 1948, at 6:15 p.m. with a news broadcast hosted by Arch MacDonald. The station was from its inception associated with the NBC television network, owing to WBZ radio (1030 AM)'s longtime affiliation with the NBC Red Network. At its sign-on, WBZ-TV became the first commercial television station to begin operations in the New England region. The station originally operated from inside the Hotel Bradford alongside its radio sister; its current home was not completed at the time, although master control and its self-supporting tower over the building were in use at sign-on. The WBZ stations would not move into what was then known as the Westinghouse Broadcasting Center until June 17, 1948, when the building was opened.
The station was knocked off the air on August 31, 1954, when Hurricane Carol destroyed its transmitter tower. A temporary transmitter was installed using a short, makeshift tower at the studio site and later on the original tower of WEEI-FM (now WODS) in Malden. In 1957, WBZ-TV began broadcasting from a 1200-foot (366 m) tower in Needham, along with the original WBZ-FM at 106.7 FM (now WMJX). The tower site is now known as the CBS Digital Television Broadcasting Facility, and is used by several Boston-area television stations, including WGBH-TV (channel 2) and WCVB-TV (channel 5).
Channel 4 was in danger of losing its NBC affiliation when Westinghouse balked at NBC's initial offer to trade sister stations KYW radio and WPTZ television (now KYW-TV) in Philadelphia in exchange for WTAM-AM-FM and WNBK television (now WKYC-TV) in Cleveland. In response, NBC threatened to pull its programming from both WBZ-TV and WPTZ unless Westinghouse agreed to the trade. The swap was made in February 1956, but Westinghouse immediately complained to the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice about NBC's extortion. The threat reemerged in 1960 after NBC announced it would swap the Philadelphia stations in exchange for a competing Boston outlet, then-CBS affiliate WNAC-TV (channel 7) and its sister radio stations, from RKO General. Approval of the RKO-NBC deal would have potentially made WBZ-TV an ABC affiliate, completing a three-way swap of network affiliations in Boston. However, in 1964, the FCC nullified the NBC-RKO trade and ordered the NBC-Westinghouse swap reversed without NBC realizing any profit on the deal. WBZ-TV retained its NBC affiliation as a result of the cancelled sale.
WBZ-TV (sometimes informally referred to as "BZ" both on- and off-air) was a pioneer in Boston television. In 1948, it began live broadcasts of Boston's two Major League Baseball teams, the Red Sox and the Braves, broadcasts that at first were split with WNAC-TV. It was also the first Boston station to have daily newscasts, starting with the station's very first night on the air. On October 12, 1957, WBZ-TV broadcast a half-hour special program on Sputnik 1, featuring a motion picture of the final stage of its rocket crossing the pre-dawn sky of Baltimore, shot by sister station WJZ-TV.
Switch to CBS (1995-present)
In 1994, sister station WJZ-TV in Baltimore lost its affiliation with ABC after that network announced a deal with the E. W. Scripps Company to switch three of Scripps' television stations—including its Baltimore outlet, WMAR-TV—to ABC. Westinghouse felt betrayed by ABC's decision, and as a safeguard began shopping for affiliation deals for the entire Group W television unit. Group W eventually struck an agreement to switch WBZ-TV, KYW-TV and WJZ-TV to CBS (Westinghouse's two other stations, KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh and KPIX in San Francisco were already CBS affiliates). The Boston market's third network affiliation switch took place on January 2, 1995. After a 47-year relationship with NBC, channel 4 became the third station in Boston to align with CBS. The network had originally affiliated with WNAC-TV in 1948, then moved to channel 5 (the original WHDH-TV) in 1961; it then returned to WNAC-TV (predecessor to the current WHDH) in 1972 and remained on channel 7 until the switch.
When Westinghouse merged with CBS outright on November 24, 1995, WBZ-TV became a CBS-owned-and-operated station (and has remained so ever since). As a condition of the merger, CBS had to sell WPRI-TV (channel 12) in Providence, Rhode Island, which was acquired by CBS earlier that year and was involved in an affiliation switch with WLNE-TV that occurred on September 10, 1995. Channel 4 provides at least grade B signal coverage to all of Rhode Island, and city-grade coverage within Providence itself as well as Fall River and New Bedford. At the time, the FCC normally did not allow common ownership of two stations with overlapping signals, and would not even consider a waiver for stations with overlapping city-grade signals. In 1996, WBZ-TV became the first former Group W station to drop the classic Group W font.
After the 2000 acquisition of CBS by its former subsidiary, Viacom, which effectively made the station locally owned because Viacom's parent National Amusements is based in the suburbs of Boston, WBZ-TV's operations were merged with that of Boston's UPN affiliate, WSBK-TV; concurrently, WBZ-TV also took over the operations of WLWC, the UPN affiliate in nearby Providence, which had been run out of WSBK-TV. Today, the operations of WBZ-TV and WSBK-TV are co-located at WBZ's studios in Brighton. WLWC was sold in 2006 to the Four Points Media Group, a holding company owned by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management; it, along with the other Four Points stations, has since been acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group (WLWC would subsequently be sold to OTA Broadcasting and Ion Media).
On February 2, 2017, CBS agreed to sell CBS Radio to Entercom, then the fourth-largest radio broadcaster in the United States, the sale was conducted using a Reverse Morris Trust so that it would be tax-free. While CBS shareholders retained a 72% ownership stake in the combined company, Entercom was the surviving entity, separating WBZ (AM) and its sister radio stations from WBZ-TV. The sale was completed on November 17, 2017, under the terms of a settlement with the Department of Justice, WBZ (AM) was then divested to iHeartMedia.
|TV stations in New England|
|WFSB, Hartford/New Haven|
|TV Stations in Greater Boston and southern New Hampshire|
|English stations||Spanish stations||New Hampshire|
|WGBH 2 (PBS)||WUTF 27 (UMas)||WMUR 9 (ABC)|
|WHDT-LD 3 (Ind)||WCEA-LD 58 (Ind)||WENH 11 (PBS)|
|WBZ 4 (CBS)||WUNI 66 (UNI)||WYCN-CD 15 (NBC)|
|WCVB 5 (ABC)||WPXG 21 (Court TV)|
|WHDH 7 (Ind)||WLEK-LD 22 (DrTV)|
|WBTS-LD 8 (NBC)||WWJE 50 (Justice)|
|WFXZ-CD 24 (Biz TV)||WEKW 52 (PBS)|
|WFXT 25 (Fox)||WNEU 60 (TLM)|
|WSBK 38 (MNTV)|
|WGBX 44 (PBS)|
|WWDP 46 (Evine Live)|
|WYDN 48 (Daystar)|
|WLVI 56 (CW)|
|WDPX 58 (Bounce TV)|
|WMFP 62 (SBN)|
|WBPX 68 (Ion)|
|WHDH 5 (ABC/CBS)|
|WNAC 7 (CBS/ABC)|
|WJZB 14 (Ind)|
|WNHT 21 (Ind/CBS)|
|WXPO 50 (Ind)|
|WTAO 56 (ABC/DuMont)|