The Weather Channel was removed from DirecTV’s (NYSE:DTV) lineup on Tuesday amid a dispute over subscriber fees, as the satellite television operator suggests demand for weather updates on TV is waning.
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Dan York, DirecTV’s chief content officer, said consumers don’t want a weather channel “with a forecast of a 40 percent chance of reality TV.” In place of the Weather Channel, DirecTV launched an around-the-clock channel called 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,” said York.
DirecTV is seeking a discount of up to 20% to carry the Weather Channel, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company has argued that consumers are increasingly turning to mobile apps and other digital services for weather updates.
A spokesperson for DirecTV wasn’t immediately available to comment on the negotiations.
The Weather Channel countered that DirecTV has refused to agree on a “market-based carriage deal,” saying it’s not looking for a large fee increase.
David Kenny, chairman and CEO of the Weather Channel’s parent company, Weather Co., didn’t provide a specific figure but called DirecTV’s position “a dangerous gamble over one penny a month that puts DirecTV customers at risk.”
Kenny criticized DirecTV’s replacement network for lacking field coverage and weather experts, adding that the Weather Channel works with emergency management agencies to help people prepare for severe weather.
The network has never had a blackout from a carriage dispute in its 32-year history, he noted.
Weather Co. is owned by a group that includes Comcast’s (NASDAQ:CMCSA) NBC Universal and private equity firms Blackstone (NYSE:BX) and Bain Capital.
DirecTV shares were up 31 cents at $71.01 late Tuesday morning. Comcast was trading two cents lower at $52.14.