WHDH-TV owner Ed Ansin has come up short in his bid to make Channel 7 the Fox network affiliate in Boston.
In a memo sent to staff on Friday, the billionaire said that WHDH will continue to operate as an independent station, and WFXT-TV (Channel 25) will remain the Boston Fox affiliate.
Ansin described Channel 7 as the “top independent in the nation” and praised the station for its ability to attract late night news viewers, particularly at 9 p.m.
Ch. 7, which lost its affiliation with NBC in 2017, no longer runs network programming in prime time. Instead, it fills that air time with episodes of “Family Feud,” along with local news. Still, WHDH has remained a competitor in a crowded news market.
“Fox decided it was in their best interest to go with the bigger group,” Ansin said in an interview.
On Friday, Fox Corp. announced a multi-year agreement that renews the Fox affiliation for four stations operated by Cox Media Group including WFXT in Boston, WHBQ-TV in Memphis, WFOX-TV in Jacksonville, Fla., and KOKI-TV in Tulsa, Okla.
Last year, Cox Media Group was spun off from its parent, Cox Enterprises, and now operates as a new company that is majority owned by private equity firm Apollo Global Management.
Ansin had wanted to become the Fox affiliate because of its deals with the National Football League, Major League Baseball, and FIFA. Fox recently carried the Super Bowl and the World Series. Live sports programming is becoming an increasingly lucrative part of the TV business.
Ansin said while Ch. 7 remains profitable, he will continue to look for a partner. Apple and Amazon, he noted, are getting into the entertainment distribution business and will need a lot of content.
“The whole future of the industry is very much in flux,” he said. “I’m not counting anything out in the future.”