PRESS TOUR: Fight! Fight! Fight! Weather Channel vs. DirecTV

Saturday, 11 January 2014 04:19 PM Written by 

Click here to read Friday's TV Q&A and other, earlier press tour posts at the blog index page.

The-Weather-Channel-Logo-350x302PASADENA, Calif. -- Another day, another retransmission fight.

In DirecTV vs. The Weather Channel, it's hard to buy the line Weather Channel executives are serving up.

The Weather Channel's contract with DirecTV expires at midnight Monday and the two companies are at an impasse, meaning DirecTV subscribers could lose The Weather Channel from their lineup on Tuesday if no deal is made. TWC execs say they are asking for a "negligible increase for the life-saving information that we offer."

The Weather Channel is suggesting people call their public representatives to demand they keep the network, even suggesting it's a quasi-public utility.

That's where it gets tough to swallow. 

Read more after the jump. ...

So here's a statement from weather channel about how critical their weather programming is:

The Weather Channel Launches Campaign to Alert DIRECTV Customers of Potential Loss of Critical Programming

With crucial public safety and severe weather preparedness programming at risk of being dropped by DIRECTV, campaign asks consumers to speak out

For Release: January 11, 2014


ATLANTA, GA – Today The Weather Channel launched a nationwide campaign to alert DIRECTV customers that they are at risk of losing access to its critical weather programming, and asking them to contact Congress about this public safety issue. The Weather Channel and DIRECTV are involved in negotiations to renew The Weather Channel’s carriage agreement, but to date an agreement has not been reached. If an agreement is not reached by Tuesday, January 14 at 12:01 a.m. ET, DIRECTV viewers will lose access to the 24/7/365 national and hyperlocal weather information that The Weather Channel provides to consumers and communities across the country.


“For DIRECTV to take us off their lineup would be deeply irresponsible to its customers who not only count on The Weather Channel on a day-to-day basis, but depend on us before, during and after severe weather events. As the most trusted source of weather news and information in America, The Weather Channel is there when it matters most. If we are not available to DIRECTV’s 20 million viewers, they will miss the accurate and life-saving information we have been providing for more than 30 years,” said David Kenny, chairman and CEO of The Weather Company, parent company of The Weather Channel. “We have offered the industry’s best rate for our programming and are committed to reaching an agreement.”


Starting today, The Weather Channel will begin asking DIRECTV viewers and all Weather Channel supporters to call their Representative and Senators in Washington and ask them to help keep this critical public safety resource in the DIRECTV lineup. Given the increasing frequency and severity of weather-related emergencies across the country, access to timely and accurate weather information is imperative for public safety and, therefore, an issue meriting Congressional attention.


The campaign, aimed at demonstrating the critical public safety role of The Weather Channel, will be supported by a multifaceted direct-to-consumer campaign that will include advertising on The Weather Channel, weather.com and on The Weather Channel’s mobile apps. Viewers who are interested in getting involved are encouraged to visit www.keeptheweatherchannel.com. Here, consumers can submit a letter to their Congressional representative and can find a list of Congressional office numbers to call to make their voice heard. Consumers are also encouraged to use social media to get involved with the campaign by sharing the keeptheweatherchannel.com URL, tweeting @directv using the hastag #stormdirectv, and posting on DIRECTV’s Facebook page.


Every day, 100 million households rely on The Weather Channel to provide critical and accurate real-time weather-related information. With more than 220 meteorologists, forecasting covers the entire United States from the national and regional level, all the way down to the hyperlocal street level. The Weather Channel also maintains two-way partnerships with public and non-profit emergency response organizations, including The American Red Cross, FEMA and NOAA, allowing for a constant flow and disbursement of critical weather-related information when it matters most.


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And maybe I would buy that line of argument if The Weather Channel hadn't replaced so much of their weather coverage with reality shows, something viewers have complained to me about endlessly. Also, there are local TV weather forecasters and the National Weather Service.
 
"If you have ever been in a severe weather situation and you need to make a decision to protect your family and protect it fast, you need to know it comes from a trusted source, not only the weather but people who need to know how to communicate what to do in the weather," said Weather Channel president David Clark, who noted the most accute need is for tornadoes in the Midwest.
 
That's all well and good but this fight is with a satellite company and when there's a big storm, your satellite service goes out so you're not going to see The Weather Channel anyway!
 
And hiring Sam Champion as their new morning show host (7-10 a.m. starting in March) doesn't speak to an emphasis on weather science. (Champion has a degree in broadcasting, not meteorology.) The same goes for the silly naming of winter storms, which the National Weather Service is not supportive of.
 
So even though I'm not generally inclined to buy the argument of cable/satellite companies, in this case, the statement from DirecTV is more resonant:

DIRECTV Statement on Weather Coverage


EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Jan. 11, 2014 – We remain in discussions with The Weather Channel on how to provide its service to our customers at the best value since people now use so many other ways to retrieve weather-related information. We launched WeatherNation as an alternative to provide 24/7 hard news weather coverage in response to numerous customer complaints that more than 40 percent of The Weather Channel’s programming is dedicated to reality television shows. DIRECTV also offers city-by-city weather coverage on more than 1,400 local broadcast stations and on DIRECTV’s emergency channels in times of severe weather.

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