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DIRECTV Loses The Weather Channel In Fee Fight
Washington, D.C. (January 14, 2014) - DIRECTV this morning lost The Weather Channel in a fee fight with the channel.
The two companies have been engaging in a war of words for the past 48 hours after failing to reach a new programming agreement. The old agreement was scheduled to expire at the end of 2013, but the companies pushed that deadline to this morning at 12:00 a.m. And when the clock struck midnight, The Weather Channel was no longer on DIRECTV's airwaves at channel 362.
DIRECTV viewers waking up this morning may not have noticed the change because the satcaster has put the Weather Nation TV channel on both channel 361 and channel 362 with no on-screen explanation on channel 362 for what happened to The Weather Channel. (DIRECTV, on December 16, added The Weather Nation, a lowly rated alternative to The Weather Channel, and placed it at channel 361, right next to The Weather Channel on channel 362, in apparent anticipation of this fee fight.)
However, DIRECTV did post a new info channel at channel 362-1 that includes a short message: "DIRECTV currently does not have permission to offer The Weather Channel."
The Weather Channel says DIRECTV wants to reduce its rates to carry the channel. "We offered DIRECTV the best rate for our programming and I'm shocked they have put corporate profits ahead of keeping a trusted channel that subscribers rely on every day," said David Kenny, The Weather Channel's CEO.
DIRECTV denies that it's asking for a rate reduction, but does say that subscribers have complained that the channel has shifted its focus to reality TV programming. The Weather Channel has added several documentary/reality shows to supplement its live coverage of weather events.
The Weather Channel has urged DIRECTV subscribers to contact their representatives in Congress to pressure DIRECTV to keep it on the air. The channel calls it a "public safety issue."
But DIRECTV says it offers city-by-city weather coverage on its local stations and weather alerts on emergency channels.
DIRECTV CFO Patrick Doyle recently said at the company's 'investors day' meeting in New York that the company was prepared to drop low-rated channels to save money on programming costs. The Los Angeles Times writes that The Weather Channel, despite its high-profile in the media, averages only around 200,000 viewers every day.
Doyle's statement -- and the addition of The Weather Nation -- could both be serving as notices that DIRECTV is ready to move on without The Weather Channel if it demands too much to carry it in a new programming agreement.
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