4TH UPDATE, 10:05 PM: Each side is — gasp! — blaming the other for the blackout. Now DirecTV has issued a statement of its own regarding the Weather Channel. It reads in part: “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.” (The full statement is below.)
3RD UPDATE, 9:21 PM: Here we go again. In the latest showdown between a pay TV company and a content provider, the Weather Channel is no longer available on DirecTV as of midnight Eastern. The parties were unable to reach a carriage deal. DirecTV customers who tune to the familiar channel 361 are getting the feed from a small operation called WeatherNation, which the satcaster had snuck onto channel 361 before year’s end. “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,” David Kenny, chairman and CEO of The Weather Company, said in a statement tonight. “We are not looking for a large fee increase. We are simply looking for a fair deal. …” (Read the company’s full statement below.)
During the Weather Channel’s crowded session at the TCA Press Tour this morning, its president David Clark and Sam Campion — recently poached from Good Morning America — toed the company line that the satcaster not carrying their channel amounts to a public safety issue. Their statements echoed a release from the Weather Channel late Friday that urged DirecTV subscribers to call their congressmen to voice concern about losing the service. The satellite TV giant responded with a release of its own saying it had received numerous complaints about the Weather Channel’s growing slate of reality programming.
The Weather Channel-DirecTV action comes four months after Time Warner Cable and CBS settled their dispute that had resulted in a monthlong blackout of CBS and Showtime channels for TWC customers.
HERE IS THE WEATHER CHANNEL’S FULL STATEMENT:
“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.”
HERE IS DIRECTV’S FULL STATEMENT:
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.”
PREVIOUS, 11:50 AM: The weather war raged on this morning at the TCA press tour, where Weather Channel president David Clark talked up his channel’s contributions to public safety and warned against trusting DirecTV’s newbie weather news provider for updates in the face of emergency to a mixed reaction from critics. “[You need] to know your information comes from a trusted source,” he said. “Don’t think you can stand a fly by night alternative to that. You’re going to be putting your audience at risk.”
PREVIOUS, 10:30 AM: Here’s DirecTV with its own official statement blaming the Weather Channel fracas on “numerous customer complaints” about the NBCUniversal/Blackstone Group/Bain Capital-owned Weather Channel’s abundance of reality programming:
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 (DIRECTV channel 361) 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.
The satellite giant’s subscribers might have noticed that a little channel called WeatherNation has appeared right next to Weather Channel on DirecTV’s lineup in recent weeks. This as the satcaster’s carriage deal with the latter is set to expire next week. Now the Weather Channel is going on the offensive, launching a nationwide campaign asking its viewers to contact their congressional reps to intervene so they don’t lose access to “its critical weather programming,” calling it a “public safety issue.” Check out the release that went out late tonight:
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.