DirecTV May Drop The Weather Channel

The Weather Channel plays the public safety card in PR campaign

DirecTV may be angling to drop The Weather Channel from its lineup, prompting The Weather Channel to launch a PR campaign to try and stop it.

The carriage deal between the two parties expires Jan. 14. At risk for The Weather Channel is distribution to DirecTV's 20 million subscribers.

Through a website, social media and advertising on its own channel and app, The Weather Channel is framing its side of the dispute as a public safety risk if DirecTV drops the channel, urging viewers to "contact Congress" to intervene. Interested viewers can go to the website to submit a letter to their representative or find a list of Congressional phone numbers to call.

"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," said David Kenny, chairman and CEO of The Weather Co. "We have offered the industry's best rate for our programming and are committed to reaching an agreement."

The Weather Channel charges an average carriage fee of about 13 cents per month, or half the industry average, per SNL Kagan estimates. 

But DirecTV may not be all that compelled to reach a deal. Though the satcaster said in a statement it remained in discussions with The Weather Channel, the company also implied that people don't have to rely on The Weather Channel for weather information because "people now use so many other ways to retrieve weather-related information," the statement said.

DirecTV also recently launched its own channel, WeatherNation (on channel 361), as an alternative to the Weather Channel's move towards more long-form programming. WeatherNation, DirecTV said, provides "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." The satellite TV service also touted the city-by-city weather coverage provided by more than 1,400 local broadcast stations and DirecTV's emergency channels.