Massachusetts – Cities

The state of Massachusetts is home to the fifth largest television market in the U.S. The Boston and Manchester areas both represent a large market where all of the major networks are present and accounted for. During the early 1950s, the area was also home to a number of pioneers in network television and often found itself at the forefront of televised programming.


Throughout television history, Massachusetts established itself as a city of firsts. In 1928, experimental television station W1XAY, also known as WLEX, was among the first in the world to successfully transmit moving images. Pioneered by entrepreneurs Jack Dodge, Henry Lane and Al Poté, W1XAY went on air on June 14 in Lexington – viewers used early television sets that utilized amplifiers and motor-driven discs to project images at 18 frames per second with 48 vertical lines of resolution.

W1XAY ended its operations in 1930, due largely to the relative infancy of television as a viable medium and the lack of proper receiving equipment among ordinary consumers. Starting in 1948, WBZ and other networks would begin broadcasting over vastly improved equipment.

Thanks to the efforts of WGBH-TV, the Boston area was positioned at the forefront of public television programming. Music video station WVJV-TV appeared on Boston airwaves in 1985, approximately four years after the advent of MTV. In most markets within the state, cable companies carried WVJV as an alternative to VH1. Before changing formats and call signs in 1986, it became the first station in the area to broadcast in stereo.

Current Television Networks

WGBH-TV (channel 2) is among the most well-known of all Massachusetts television stations throughout the U.S. The station started out in 1951 as a radio broadcasting network, later migrating to television in 1955. Spearheading the public television movement, WGBH was the first non-commercial station in the New England area. As a member station of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), WGBH produces up to two-thirds of the non-profit public network’s primetime television programming. The WGBH Educational Foundation owns WGBH-TV and sister station WGBX-TV (channel 44).

Other major networks include WCDC and WCVB (ABC), WBZ (CBS), WFXT (Fox) and WHDH (NBC). Starting in mid-1948, WBZ, a NBC affiliate at the time, became the first commercial station to operate within Massachusetts and the New England area, offering live broadcasts of Major League Baseball games and daily newscasts. It was also the first and only television station that was built from the ground up by then-parent company Westinghouse.

Latino television networks Telemundo, UniMas and Univision are also well-represented in Massachusetts. Telemundo operates under affiliates WRDM-CD and WDMR-LD, based in Springfield. UniMas operates under WUTF-DT in Marlborough, with ties to Univision’s WUNI in Worchester.

Current Cable and Satellite Providers

Most cable and satellite services throughout the state is provided by nationally-known telecommunications companies, including Cox, Comcast, Time Warner, Charter, Dish Network and Verizon. The state also has several locally-owned cable television systems, including SELCO of Shrewsbury. RCN is another digital cable provider with a regional presence across Boston and the New England area, as well as in the D.C. metro area and Chicago.

DTV Channel Lists are available for the following cities in Massachusetts.