DirecTV Drops The Weather Channel In Dispute Over Carriage Fees

The network was pulled from 20 million homes at midnight Monday and replaced with competitor Weather Nation. Updated 2:30 p.m. ET Tuesday.

The Weather Channel launched a website featuring a video message from on-air personality Jim Cantore urging viewers to help keep its programming on the air.

The Weather Channel was dropped from DirecTV’s lineup at midnight Monday after the two sides ended talks without reaching a new carriage agreement, removing the channel from some 20 million households.

The satellite TV provider replaced The Weather Channel’s programming with competitor Weather Nation, a small, lesser-known network that was added to the lineup last month.

The Weather Channel said Tuesday negotiations with DirecTV are over and viewers must switch TV providers to continue watching the network’s programming. The channel’s CEO David Kenny called the move “unprecedented” in its 32-year history.

“This is a dangerous gamble over one penny a month that puts DIRECTV customers at risk,” Kenny said Tuesday. “This reckless move by DIRECTV will have an impact on our role as part of the national safety and preparedness fabric of our country at a time when the volatility and frequency of weather events seems to be increasing.”

DirecTV argues consumers now have a variety of ways to get weather information and it’s providing viewers a round-the-clock weather service with Weather Nation.

“Most consumers don’t want to watch a weather information channel with a forecast of a 40% chance of reality TV,” DirecTV Chief Content Officer Dan York said. “So with that in mind, we are in the process of discussing an agreement to return the network to our lineup at the right value for our customers.”

The Weather Channel launched a campaign last week featuring a website and social media push encouraging viewers to contact DirecTV and members of Congress to keep the channel on the satellite provider.

“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,” it said on Saturday.

The Weather Channel, which employs 220 meteorologists, said it was seeking a modest price increase equating to about 1 cent per subscriber per month. DirecTV, however, is looking to reduce the fees it pays to carry the channel by more than 20%, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“We launched Weather Nation to provide 24/7 hard news weather coverage in response to numerous customer complaints that more the (sic) 40% of The Weather Channel’s programming is dedicated to reality television shows,” DirecTV said Saturday.

The NBC Universal-owned network recently launched a new set and on-air look with a renewed emphasis on covering the weather after previously abandoning some live programming for longer-form shows, alienating fans.

The Weather Channel’s ratings have fluctuated as storms impact the country and viewers tune in for coverage of news-making events. Last year the network averaged 210,000 viewers and 284,000 during the morning hours, its highest-rated block, Nielsen said.

“I am hopeful DIRECTV will come to their senses soon and will not force its customers to change carriers to stay safe and informed,” Kenny said.

3. The Weather Channel CEO David Kenny issued this statement after the network was pulled.


At 12:01 this morning, The Weather Channel is no longer available on DIRECTV, which refused to come to an agreement on a market-based carriage deal. Following is a statement from David Kenny, chairman and CEO of The Weather Company:

This is unprecedented for The Weather Channel. In our 32 years, we have never had a significant disruption due to a failure to reach a carriage agreement. We offered DIRECTV the best rate for our programming, and I am shocked they have put corporate profits ahead of keeping a trusted channel that subscribers rely on every day. We are not looking for a large fee increase. We are simply looking for a fair deal that allows our company to continue to invest in the science and technology that enables us to keep people safe, deliver the world’s best weather, and tell weather stories to help people be prepared and informed.

At a time when DIRECTV has increased customer rates by 4 percent, they are trading safety for increased profits and replacing the experience and expertise of The Weather Channel with a cheap startup that does weather forecasting on a three-hour taped loop, has no field coverage, no weather experts — certainly not any on par with The Weather Channel network’s industry-recognized experts like tornado expert Dr. Greg Forbes and winter weather expert Tom Niziol — and no experience in severe weather emergencies. This is a dangerous gamble over one penny a month that puts DIRECTV customers at risk.

This reckless move by DIRECTV will have an impact on our role as part of the national safety and preparedness fabric of our country at a time when the volatility and frequency of weather events seems to be increasing. The Weather Channel partners with humanitarian and emergency management agencies at the local, state and federal levels. We help people prepare before storms, stay safe during their effects, and find help afterward. If the network is not available to viewers, the effectiveness of these partnerships, which help make us a more weather ready nation, are jeopardized. I am hopeful DIRECTV will come to their senses soon and will not force its customers to change carriers to stay safe and informed.

4. DirecTV released this statement early Tuesday.


DIRECTV released the following statement tonight from Dan York, Chief Content Officer, in response to The Weather Channel dropping its service from DIRECTV.

The Weather Channel has removed its service from DIRECTV, and while that’s regrettable, DIRECTV will continue to provide its customers with what they’ve been asking for, around-the-clock, 100 percent weather news and information now available on WeatherNation (Channel 362).

Consumers understand there are now a variety of other ways to get weather coverage, free of reality show clutter, and that The Weather Channel does not have an exclusive on weather coverage – the weather belongs to everyone.

Most consumers don’t want to watch a weather information channel with a forecast of a 40 percent chance of reality TV. So with that in mind, we are in the process of discussing an agreement to return the network to our line-up at the right value for our customers.

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