The federal delegation, led by Markey, has been working for nearly three years to bring back in-state programming to Berkshire viewers since Spectrum's parent company, Charter Communications, dropped WWLP in April 2017.
Charter subscribers in the Berkshires also will continue to have access to broadcast stations based in Albany, N.Y.
"During the current coronavirus crisis, it is more important than ever that the people of the Berkshires have access to Massachusetts news and information," Markey said in the prepared release. "The coronavirus emergency is changing rapidly, and public officials across the state are continually issuing critical announcements that must reach every corner of the state. Viewers in the Berkshires will now have access to this vital Massachusetts news source once again. I want to thank Nexstar, WWLP's owner, and Charter for following through on their commitment to me and the people of the Berkshires. And I thank Senator Warren and Congressman Neal for their years' long partnership on this issue."
"As our nation and Commonwealth grapple with this public health emergency, it's critical that residents in the Berkshires have access to local programming that is accurate, reliable, and relevant to their community," Warren said in the release. "I'm glad that WWLP will be returning to Berkshire County tomorrow and I'm thankful to Senator Markey and Congressman Neal for helping to get this done."
"An emergency like the global coronavirus pandemic is the reason why we have been advocating so strongly for the return of WWLP TV-22 to the airways in Berkshire County," Neal said in the statement. "During a time of crisis, like COVID-19, the public wants to be educated and informed with a reliable local news source. After more than three years of hard work, the people of the Berkshires will finally be able to view Massachusetts based news programming, and it could not have happened at a more appropriate time."
Because the Berkshires are technically part of the Albany "Designated Market Area," Western Massachusetts viewers primarily have had access to broadcast stations that focus on New York. Charter launched a Western Massachusetts news program this year on Spectrum's Channel 1.
Markey previously introduced legislation with Warren and Neal that would force the to engage in good-faith negotiations with WWLP, and WCVB out of Boston, to bring those stations back on the air in Berkshire County. The bill also preserves Berkshire County residents' access to Albany stations that provide relevant weather updates and important emergency information. Markey pushed for a version of this bill as an amendment to the 2019 satellite reauthorization bill in the Senate Commerce Committee.
Markey personally has met with the CEOs of Charter and Nexstar, WWLP's owner, and encouraged the two parties to resolve their dispute and meet Berkshire residents' demand for Massachusetts television programming.