The Glory Days of the old NECN…

On March 1st, the network marked it’s 30th anniversary on the air. Apparently the channel didn’t celebrate this. I only saw one tweet indicating the anni. (Love the Lego letters on the third pic!)

Once upon a time the channel was half owned by the Hearst Corporation and the other half was Continental Cablevision (if memory serves me, the big Eastern Massachusetts cable chain that was one of the seven degrees to the present day Comcast.)  Because the half venture, that meant the management was local and independent from influence from either company.

Late in February, I came across a playlist on my YouTube of some clips that are on there that from the ol New England Cable News prior to the mid 2010s.

NECN was based for many years in a building in Newton, Mass., they had their own newsroom, their own full time staff, they produced news for WFXT-TV and WSBK-TV in the 90s, as both stations didn’t have a news operation of their own. Their bureaus were in Hartford and in Manchester, NH. They partnered with other stations in the other 4 states, until they got a bureau in all six by 2003.

The channel was known for “repeated” broadcasts, but this is very common with regional cable news. It had a predictable format, morning was fully live; mornings was an hour from 9:00 to 10:00, midday was live for an hour, repeated twice till 3:00 and a half hour afternoon program at 4:00 and 5:00 and repeated at the bottom of the hour. Their 6pm newscast was reaired later, entitled Prime Time New England.

The branding was clunky at inception…

The mic flags were even more clunkier.

By the mid 1990s, the channel basically developed a colorful branding. If a channel had to trademark it’s colors, it would be NECN.

The primary color was black, with a red line. It’s time and temperature bug was cute for the time, the Chyron generated this typewriter effect, the city was on the red space, the temperature was on the black. The time was on the grey spot, and the live bug would live on the right empty spot, but was used rarely except for breaking events.


The second trademark color of NECN was orange for the lower thirds. When the station rebranded in the year 2000 to it’s initials, the logo had more of red/orange look, but the graphics would take a red and black feel. You’ll see why this matters shortly…

Apparently the producer or the Chyron person is so Massachusetts-centric… Opps did I over generalize? all of these grabs came from the year 2000.

Over the 2000s, NECN would go more colorful and by the time they went to HD was when Hearst gave up the stake giving Comcast full control, as well as management, and around that time the network’s graphics was bloated, with a full blue color, which I do not think goes well on TV, as a primary color. (But what am I to kid, some may not like red and black?)

While it’s under current ownership under Comcast’s NBCUniversal, it’s one of the only regional news channels that is still in existence even if it’s a shadow of it’s former self. As a semi frequent viewer, it’s not what it used to be. NECN is the only one that is surviving other than Cablevision/Altice’s News 12 and Spectrum Cable’s channels (of which since 2017, they have built newsrooms and brand new hyperlocal news channels.) In between the launch of NECN, North West Cable News (NWCN), Texas Cable News (TXCN), Chicagoland TV (CLTV), had came to air. By 2020 all of those three that had multi market exposure are no longer, leaving NECN by this time one of the only multi state, multi market regional cable news.

Comparing NECN to TXCN or NWCN is inaccurate. Those two were dependent on terrestrial stations that the two would regurgitate with some original news content from their home base. Belo acquired the 4 stations that formed NWCN and most likely was the basis for TXCN for their stations in Texas. As a sidenote, despite the affiliation to WGN-TV, CLTV was mostly based in area designed for cable news in the newsroom of the Chicago Tribune but in it’s later years of existence moved to WGN-TV’s studios as the Tribune and commonly owned stations have not common anymore. News 12 was closely similar in the format, much smaller in scale, each region had their own channel (Long Island, Westchester, Connecticut, New Jersey, etc.)  Meanwhile New York 1 did recorded segments and plop them together, the practice that NY1 did since their inception in late 1992 to the fall of 2017 when they decided to go fully live/playback wheels.

The ol NY1 is what NECN is today, probably in a cheaper fashion; while New York 1 is like the old NECN, and the way Spectrum has invested in hyper local content, would not be a far-fetched assumption. There is more than a dozen Spectrum local news outlets some are on the signature channel “1” (ala NY1), and some just are branded as “Spectrum News [Market]”.

More on a throwback design in a later post


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