Politics

Comcast will keep airing WCVB throughout all of Massachusetts after all

"We are notifying customers about this update today.”

Supporters rally outside the WCVB headquarters in Needham before a 2013 Senate debate. Jim Davis / The Boston Globe, File

Comcast subscribers across Massachusetts won’t lose access to WCVB after all — at least not any time soon.

Following concerns that Comcast subscribers in parts of the state would no longer get the Boston-based ABC affiliate beginning next week, the cable provider said Tuesday that they have reached a deal with Hearst to keep airing the station as usual across its local markets.

“We have come to an agreement with the owners of WCVB that will allow Comcast to offer the station in the same manner as we have in the past,” Comcast spokesperson Marc Goodman told Boston.com in an email. “As a result, WCVB will remain on our channel lineup in Providence. We are notifying customers about this update today.”

Comcast had warned last month that subscribers in Bristol County, as well as the Springfield area, could see WCVB dropped from their TV lineup, after its broadcasting agreement with Hearst for the rights to air in out-of-market stations expired.

For subscribers in Bristol Country, which is technically part of the Providence market, that meant the potential loss of in-state news and other local programming on WCVB. Even if they would still get ABC’s national programming from a Rhode Island-based station, the potential change stirred concern among some residents and lawmakers, who called on the two sides to come to an agreement.

“Particularly during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, loss of access to this station would be harmful to Bristol County viewers who rely on state-specific announcements to stay healthy and safe,” said a Dec. 3 letter led by Sen. Ed Markey’s office. “Updates and recommendations from the State House must reach every corner of the Commonwealth, as communities across Massachusetts face enormous public health and economic challenges.”

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Fast forward 12 days, and Comcast and Hearst have indeed come to an agreement. (Goodman declined to share the terms or length of the deal.)

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