New England Cable News maintains a remote camera in the television studio of Suffolk University in downtown Boston. New England Cable News is available across New England in 3.7 million homes and produces several original programs.
NECN was launched March 2, 1992, as a joint partnership between Continental Cablevision (now part of Comcast) and the Hearst Corporation. On June 18, 2009, Hearst sold its stake in NECN to Comcast, who began to operate it as a division of the Comcast Sports Group and Comcast SportsNet.
When Hearst owned a stake in NECN, it used the resources of several New England stations owned and operated by Hearst Television to assist in news coverage of the region. The Hearst stations include Boston ABC affiliate WCVB-TV (for a period early in NECN's existence, the network rebroadcast WCVB's 6:00 p.m. newscast at 8:00 p.m.); New Hampshire's ABC affiliate WMUR-TV; ABC affiliate WMTW in Portland (NECN and WMTW both maintain bureaus in the Time and Temperature Building in downtown Portland, though the operations are physically separate and NECN uses its own news vehicles in Maine); and WPTZ and WNNE, Vermont's two NBC affiliates.
NECN is a training ground for local news reporters. Some of the better-known reporters who got their start at NECN include ABC's Dan Harris, CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, and CNBC's Maya Kulycky. Several of Boston's current television reporters and anchors also began at NECN. Conversely, NECN has also employed some of the long-lived veterans of the Boston television market, including R. D. Sahl, Tom Ellis and Chet Curtis.
In addition to its cable production operations, NECN began to produce an 10:00 p.m. newscast for Boston FOX affiliate WFXT, known as FOX 25 News at 10:00 on September 7, 1993. Shortly after Fox Television Stations bought WFXT from the Boston Celtics, it chose not to renew the contract with NECN upon its expiration on October 1, 1995 (the station would launch its own news operation a year later); the next day, the newscast moved to UPN affiliate WSBK-TV and was renamed UPN 38 Prime News. The 10:00 p.m. newscast left the air on October 4, 1998, when WSBK canceled it to focus on sports and entertainment programming. Currently, NECN helps produce Worcester News TONIGHT and Worcester News TONIGHT 10:00 p.m. Update on Charter TV3 in Worcester which is shown weeknights at 6:00, 6:30, 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. The 10:00 broadcast is rebroadcast at 11:00, 11:30 p.m. and 2:30 a.m.
Comcast systems generally carry NECN as part of the limited basic tier, usually on a VHF channel (channel 6 in most Metro Boston communities). It is also seen on Verizon FiOS on channel 115 as part of local Digital, and on RCN on channel 318 as part of its Signature package. Most other cable TV systems in New England carry it, with the exception of Cox. The service is not available on satellite.
On January 18, 2010, NECN launched an HD version on Comcast systems. Although NECN-SD is generally part of limited basic on Comcast, it appears one needs to subscribe to the Digital Starter tier to get NECN-HD. Most Boston area viewers that subscribe to Comcast's Digital Starter tier can get NECN-HD on Channel 810. Verizon carries NECN-HD on channel 615, also as part of local digital, while channel 618 is NECN-HD's home on RCN.
In December 2013 Time Warner Cable announced that NECN would be dropped from its lineups in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts by the end of the year. The future of the Portland, Maine bureau was called into question. The decision was widely criticized by Time Warner Cable customers, who solicited the intervention of public officials on their behalf. TWC subsequently decided to continue carrying NECN.