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.
Jon Passantino is a deputy news director for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Jon Passantino at email@example.com.
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