So… In yet another example of the recent trend of TV provider/Network negotiation (or lack thereof), DirecTV has decided to drop the Weather Channel from their lineup to force them to pay more in carriage fees and the Weather Channel has taken to a PR campaign to convince their viewers to switch away from DirecTV to force them accept the old carriage fees. It’s truly distasteful but it seems to be commonplace whenever a satellite or cable carrier and network/channel come to fee renegotiation time. This time, however, I find it even more distasteful.
The interesting thing about this particular fight is how The Weather Channel is making it about safety. Their website claims that they are “the most trusted resource for disseminating timely information to help prepare and protect families across the nation against weather-related emergencies.” A legitimate question here: Do more people really trust The Weather Channel than trust the National Weather Service? They’ve even enlisted their most visible personality, Jim Cantore, to go on a social media campaign using Twitter giving safety as the reason that DirecTV should put the Weather Channel back on immediately. This campaign strikes me as being a “Chicken Little” exercise, but the sky indeed is not falling. The Weather Channel is not the only source of weather information we have at hand. As always, there are the local channels which interrupt broadcasts with weather alerts, there is always NOAA Weather Radio which is a direct link to the National Weather Service which issues the alerts, there area myriad weather apps on smart phones and websites on computers. Furthermore, The Weather Channel is not the 24 hour a day weather channel it once was; it now features scheduled programming to include reality programming. During parts of the day, just like local channels they have to break into regularly scheduled programming to give you weather information.
In all honesty, I don’t think the lack of The Weather Channel puts anyone in danger. If they were the only available source of weather alerts and information or even one of just a few sources I could agree with their current campaign but they’re not. Instead they’re trying to instill a low level of fear in their viewers in the hopes that they’ll leave DirecTV and force DirecTV’s hands in negotiations. Both sides need to take their negotiations off the TV and social media, take them back into the board rooms, and quit using viewers as pawns.