Weather Channel Bumped Off DirecTV In Fee Fight

The Weather Channel said that it was no longer available to DirecTV subscribers after its carriage deal expired at 12:01 a.m. ET Tuesday.

“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,” David Kenny, chairman and CEO of The Weather Co., said in a statement. “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.”

DirecTV Chief Content Officer Dan York issued the following statement: "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% weather news and information now available on WeatherNation."

"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," York added.  "Most consumers don't want to watch a weather information channel with a forecast of a 40% 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."

As the deadline loomed, The Weather Channel, owned in part by NBCUniversal, warned that DirecTV customers would miss information vital to their safety if it is removed from the satellite service. The channel repeated that argument after being dropped.

“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,” Kenny said. “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.”

Meanwhile, DirecTV launched WeatherNation, an alternative source of weather information, which bowed on The Weather Channel's vacated spot. The new net debuted with the moniker "Real weather. Plain and simple." DirecTV also reported complaints that subscribers had about Weather Channel, including its reality shows in primetime and its policy of naming storms.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.